An art installation in Poland that includes a praying Hitler statue has sparked opposing viewpoints among its many visitors. Installed in November, the display has attracted a curious crowd and provoked emotional reactions.
The statue’s location is responsible for much of the intense reaction. It stands in the former Warsaw ghetto, a place of anguish and fear delivered by the Nazi regime. Placed behind a locked gate and only viewable at a distance, the statue sits in the same area where countless Jewish people awaited their fate at Hitler’s hands.
The Associated Press writes that the controversial statue is the work of Maurizio Cattelan, an Italian artist. The statue features a kneeling Adolf Hitler with hands clasped in prayer. Organizers refer to the piece as an opportunity to reflect on the nature of evil.
The figure, titled HIM, is a small part of the larger Amen exhibition by Cattelan. Aside from the praying Hitler statue, the rest of the exhibit is located a distance away at Warsaw’s Center for Contemporary Art.
The statue has its share of detractors who feel strongly that the installation is insensitive. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish advocacy group, has publicly voiced its disgust. Both Jewish and Catholic organizations throughout the world have expressed extreme offense.
There have also been positive reactions to the installation, with some visitors feeling that the statue represents Hitler praying for forgiveness. Others feel the statue shows that evil can come in many unassuming forms. Art experts and historians have expressed alternating opinions.
The Jerusalem Post writes that art historian Maria Poprzecka offered her thoughts on the piece:
“Cattelan is a provocateur, to some extent, but it is definitely not a blasphemer. He is one of a few artists who have won fame not because of their artistic activity, but because of scandal caused by politicians. In the exhibition ‘Amen’ he is trying to deal with such subjects as suffering, martyrdom and death. That’s the reason his other works present a crucified woman and a wounded horse.”
Tell us your opinion of a praying Adolf Hitler statue being displayed in the former Warsaw ghetto.