Controversy has been ignited over a Paris museum’s description of Auschwitz as “an architectural achievement of the Bauhaus movement,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Thursday. The description was made as part of the “Spirit of the Bauhaus” exhibit at the Museum of Decorative Arts, which features designs for Auschwitz, one of the most notorious Nazi death camps, by S.S. Officer Fritz Ertl.
Francis Kalifat, the president of Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, wrote in a letter of protest to the museum’s director that “the Bauhaus movement has enough lovely projects that make it unnecessary to insult the memory” of the roughly 1 million Jews murdered at Auschwitz.
For instance, Tel Aviv’s “White City” features over 4,000 buildings, a utilitarian art style named for the German school opened by architect Walter Gropius in 1919. The style (meaning “construction house” in German) was scorned by the Nazi regime, which viewed it as decadent and degenerate and shut down the Bauhaus school in 1933.
Ertl, the Nazi officer who contributed to the designing of Auschwitz, was a student at the Bauhaus from 1928-31 and became a Waffen-SS member in 1941. Ertl and architect Walter Dejaco were tried and acquitted of charges of mass murder in 1972 because of their part in creating the camp.