Dutch Woman Arrested, Fined After Performing Nazi Salute While Posing for Photo At Auschwitz Death Camp

A Dutch tourist was arrested on Sunday at the Auschwitz death camp for performing a Nazi salute while posing for a photo, according to Polish police.

The 29-year-old woman from the Netherlands made the gesture in front of the gate carrying the inscription "Arbeit Macht Frei," which translates to "Work Sets You Free" as her husband took a photo. The woman's identity has not been released by authorities.

Auschwitz concentration camp
The Auschwitz camp gate where the Dutch tourist performed the Nazi salute. Wikimedia Commons

Guards from the Auschwitz Museum reported the woman and she was arrested and taken into custody. Her husband, 30, was questioned as a witness, and the woman pleaded guilty to promoting Nazism, police added.

The Auschwitz concentration camp, established in 1940, was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust. As many as 1.1 million men, women and children, mostly Jews, were killed in the camp's gas chambers as well as due to slave labor. The gate where the woman took the photo was known as the "Gate of Death."

Woman Claims She Performed the Nazi Salute as a Bad Joke

The woman told police that she performed the salute as a "stupid joke." She pleaded guilty and was charged an undisclosed fine. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial confirmed the incident on Twitter.

"The Memorial Security detained a 29 y/o Dutch woman today while making the Nazi salute at the gate of the former Auschwitz I camp. Police was called," the tweet said. "The woman accepted the fine imposed by the prosecutor. She explained her behavior as a 'stupid joke.'"

Promoting Nazism Carries a Prison Sentence of Up To 2 Years

In Poland, where Auschwitz is located, promoting Nazi propaganda can result in up to two years in prison. The Nazi salute is "associated with terrible human suffering and filled with contempt and hatred," a spokesperson for the Auschwitz Museum told CNN in a statement Monday.

"While it should not be present at all in the public space, using it at the site of the former camp is unacceptable. It is disrespectful to all victims of the camp," reads the statement.

"We hope that the immediate reaction of the security of the Memorial will be a warning to all people who will be considering of using the site of the Memorial as a stage for such shameful manifestations," it continued.