The purpose of this report is to critically discuss the development and management of Auschwitz as a Thanatourism site. An exploration of the history of the site will be carried out as well evaluating the explanations as to what motivates them in visiting a site linked to tragedy and death. Management issues will also be critically evaluated and identified as well as setting out recommendations in meeting the issues in regards to the authenticity and commoditization of the Thanatourism site. Introduction
Thanatourism otherwise known as Dark tourism has found its place in the tourism sector. Though it has emerged as an academic field of study and particularly standing as a growing niche tourism product, there has been absence of realistic research (Seaton, 2012), clearness and agreement about definition and purpose of it, (Dunkley, Morgan and Westwood, 2011). Nevertheless, Stone, P (2012) defines dark tourism as social filter between life and death and a mediating institution providing a physical place to link the living a dead whereas (Sharpley and Stone 2009) defines it as ‘visitation to places where tragedies or historically noteworthy death has occurred and that continue to impact lives. Concentrating on Auschwitz- Birkenau death camp, the epitome of dark tourism, current study sheds light in how this nature of tourism experience has simplified relationships between the emblematic meanings allotted to dark tourism sites and important practicalities as to what motivates a tourist to sought such experience, (Avital et al 2011).
History of Auschwitz
Rees, L 2013, describes Auschwitz as a place with a surprising history as it was not built to exterminate Jews but built first and foremost as a site of oppression to imprison mainly political Poles or anyone the Nazi’s considered as a threat. The Germans established it in 1940 in Oswiecim, (later named Auschwitz) a city in Poland that was commandeered to the Third Reich by the Nazi’s. Auschwitz Org (2014) states that the initial reason for its establishment was the fact that local prisons could accommodate the mass arrests of Poles hence it was going to act as a concentration camp. According to Gutman and Berenbaum (1998), Auschwitz, was the largest and most notorious of the six Nazi’s concentration camps operated by the Nazi’s in the period of May 1940 to January 1945.
In 1940 the Nazi’s started placing all in ghettos whilst preparing to migrate them to Poland. Whilst waiting for decisions Jews were starved crowded into tiny areas deliberately. Due to pure sanitation condition the Jews started dying in large numbers and the German found tis as a threat to the German settlers diseases wise (Auschwitz Org, 2014). Whilst the Jews and Poles suffered, German citizens who had agreed to relocate to Poland benefitted from benefits such as tax concessions, modern houses and playing field (Steinbarcher, 2005).
SS Captain Rudolph Hoss was sent to the concentration camp in April 1940 to take up the new post as head of the concentration camp. It is this ruthless leader who supported and implemented what he thought would be the Final Solution Policy to the Jewish question, which was to exterminate and mass murder all Jewish people in Europe (Grant, 2011). Auschwitz had a plaque written ‘ARBEIT MACHT FREI” at the gate meaning work makes you free and prisoners marched everyday in and out of the gate to carry out their forced labour. Because of the growing number of prisoners congestion occurred at Auschwitz 1 such that out of the 10 00 soviet soldiers that had arrived in 1941 only 945 were still alive since most of them died from diseases, overcrowding and starvation. This called for the construction of Auschwitz II Birkenau housing 200,000 inmates. Brick bunkers were built and converted into gassing facility for mass killings. Killings were done using Zyklon B a highly lethal cyanide based pesticide, killing about 2000people in 30 minutes (Auschwitz Org, 2014)....
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