After it was discovered that footage of the notorious Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz had been used in a promotional video for a father-son match, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) issued an apology on Friday.
It was challenging to label it as an “editing mistake,” according to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum’s Twitter post.
The association denounced the utilization of film from the site that turned into an image of tremendous human misfortune and expressed that it was indecent and ill bred to the memory of all Auschwitz casualties.
Dominik Mysterio, a WWE wrestler who was “arrested” in December for pushing his father, Rey Mysterio, was featured in the promotional video for WrestleMania 39. The two men have been feuding for some time.
The younger Mysterio stated, “You think this is a game to me. I served hard time. And I survived,” in the ad, which then transitions to photographs of prisons, including Auschwitz, where over 1 million individuals were killed by the Nazis.
The WWE stated in a statement to CNN, “We had no knowledge of what was depicted. As soon as we became aware, it was immediately removed. We apologize for this error.”
It is abhorrent and inappropriate to exploit video from Auschwitz, a place of great sadness and loss, to advertise a wrestling bout. Although much-appreciated, the WWE’s apology cannot restore the harm that the promotional video’s first release did.
All businesses and organizations must make sure that their advertising materials are inclusive of all people and do not exploit the memories of those who were hurt by such atrocities.
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The WWE’s usage of Auschwitz footage is yet another example of how the misuse of historical images can be extremely harmful. It is critical that organizations take responsibility for their actions and ensure that their advertising is appropriate and sensitive to all individuals.
It is important that we do not forget the tragedy and devastation that occurred at Auschwitz, and that we honor the memory of those who perished by never using their suffering for promotional purposes.
However, this was not the only gaffe associated with the event, as a subsequent airing of the first night of the event featured footage of barbed wire, which only added fuel to the fire.
WWE’s outlandish storylines are well-known, and the father-son rivalry between Dominik and Rey Mysterio is no exception. Dominik eventually turns on his father, culminating in an altercation on Christmas Eve.
Rey, who only spent a few hours in prison, takes on a hardened criminal persona, and the gag is that he must teach Dominik a lesson about respect by beating him in their WrestleMania 39 match.
Despite the controversy surrounding the use of Auschwitz footage, WWE claimed that the event was the most successful and highest-grossing in company history. More than 500 million views and 11 million hours of video were consumed over the two-day event.
While it’s undoubtedly true that WWE’s over-the-top storylines and entertaining characters draw a large and dedicated following, it’s equally essential that the company remains mindful of the images and messages they put out to the world.
The decision to use footage from Auschwitz was a misstep, and WWE’s subsequent apology and removal of the footage were necessary but did not undo the damage. The fact that the footage was replaced by an image of barbed wire only added insult to injury.
The lessons from this incident should not be lost on WWE or other entertainment companies. In a world where social media amplifies even the smallest missteps, companies must remain vigilant in ensuring that their content is sensitive, appropriate, and respectful to all individuals.
WWE’s WrestleMania 39 event may have been a success in terms of viewership and revenue, but the use of Auschwitz footage remains a blemish on the event’s legacy.
Auschwitz is one of the most infamous Nazi concentration and extermination camps, where over 1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed during the Holocaust. Located in Oswiecim, Poland, Auschwitz consisted of three main camps, Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz, along with dozens of satellite camps.
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Auschwitz I was the first camp established in 1940 and served as the administrative center for the entire Auschwitz complex. It housed prisoners from all over Europe, including political prisoners, intellectuals, and members of various resistance movements.
The camp also had a gas chamber, where prisoners were killed using Zyklon B gas, and a crematorium for disposing of the bodies.
Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the largest and most infamous of the three camps, was established in 1941 and served as the extermination center. It had several gas chambers and crematoria, where thousands of prisoners were killed and their bodies burned every day.
The camp was designed to accommodate up to 100,000 prisoners but was often overcrowded, with as many as 200,000 people crammed into the barracks.
Auschwitz III-Monowitz, also known as Buna or Monowitz, was established in 1942 and served as a labor camp for the IG Farben chemical company. Prisoners were forced to work in harsh conditions and often died from exhaustion, malnutrition, or disease. The camp also had a gas chamber and crematorium.
Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet forces on January 27, 1945, but the horrors that took place there continue to reverberate through history. Today, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum serves as a somber reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
Visitors can see the gas chambers, crematoria, and barracks, as well as personal belongings and documents left behind by the prisoners.
The memory of Auschwitz serves as a crucial reminder of the dangers of prejudice, discrimination, and hatred. It reminds us of the terrible consequences of allowing these attitudes to go unchecked and unchallenged.
The legacy of Auschwitz should inspire us to work towards a world where such atrocities are never repeated and where all people are treated with dignity and respect.
Photo: Image IO