On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz:
Dark tourism? / Auschwitz-Bikernau
The photographic project “Dark tourism?” presents a selection of locations of great historical interest marked by death and tragedy. Manel Clemente, who had worked in his previous projects “Ghost towns” and “Forgotten ruins” the theme of abandonment and desolation now intends to document and analyze the interest shown today in places that even they fled the standards of conventional tourism industry they receive thousands of visitors every year. The title of the project is based on the nomenclature that teachers Jonh J. Lennon and Malcolm Foley of Glasgow Caledonian University used from 1996 to designate this type of tourism and to tittle their essay “Dark tourism , the attraction of death and disaster”, published in 2000. At the same time the project is also inspired in the project “I Was Here: Photographs of Dark Tourism” (2014) made by the photographer Ambroise Tézenas with which shares some of its locations. Visiting places linked to empressonament, death, genocide, tragedy ... although considered by some authors as a contemporary phenomenon and even a new fad ... is not at all a new habit. Neither are new the reasons why tourists visit these desolate sites. Historical interest and responsible reporting are usually the most common reasons but they can sometimes be mixed with morbid curiosity or attraction towards horror. Manel Clemente, however, adds a question mark to the title of the project . For him visiting these places, far from submerging him in the darkness, let him approach a clairvoyant hope both responsible and demanding, which should help us as human beings not to commit again the absurd mistakes of the past. The preservation of the remains that allow us to maintain a shared historical memory is essential in this regard to preserve the balance and peace in our globalized world. The selection of sites that Manel Clemente has photographed up to now include locations in Europe connected to the Spanish Civil War and to the World War II. “Dark tourism?” is a work in progress that tries to offer an honest approach to these past conlicts. The project also includes some sites that today are unfortunately linked to injustice and tragedy as well. Some of his pictures include the respectul interaction of visitors with the places visited.
Auschwitz concentration camp was a network of German Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish area annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It consisted of Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II–Birkenau (a combination concentration/extermination camp), AuswchwitzIII-Monowitz and 45 satellite camps. Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi Final Solution to the Jewish Question. From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp's gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish; approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and tens of thousands of others of diverse nationalities, including an unknown number of homosexuals. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was created by an act of the Polish parliament on July 2, 1947, and includes the grounds of two extant parts of the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camps. The Museum grounds cover 191 hectares, of which 20 are at Auschwitz I and 171 at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. On the museum grounds stand several hundred camp buildings and ruins, including the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria, over a dozen kilometers of camp fence, camp roads, and the railroad spur ("ramp") at Birkenau. In 1979, the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was entered on the UNESCO international list of world heritage sites. These photos weren taken in February 2016.