Barbie Death Camp Featured At Burning Man Gathering

September 4, 2019
Photo from Flickr.

A set of Barbie dolls depicted as part of a Nazi concentration camp was on display in an art exhibit during Burning Man from Aug. 25 – Sept. 3 in Black Rock Desert, Nev.

The Jewish News of Northern California (J.) reported that the display featured a banner that read, “The Mattel Co. & Auschwitz Inc. presents Barbie Death Camp & Wine Bistro.”  The words “Arbeit Macht Plastik Frei” then appear beneath it, referencing the “Work Sets You Free” sign over the Auschwitz death camp. The Barbies were depicted without clothes and being marched into three ovens.

On Aug. 31, an unspecified number of protesters approached the display and threatened James Jacoby, the brains behind the display, and vandalized the property, prompting an unnamed person affiliated with the display to use a mallet against one of the protesters’ tail lights. That person was subsequently arrested.

Jacoby told the J. that he’s Jewish and has featured the display at Burning Man “since [Bill] Clinton was president.” He defended the display as an “aphrodisiac” and said that those who are offended by it should just ignore it.

“It’s a little dark,” Jacoby acknowledged, “[but] part of the magic of [Burning Man] is that it’s not vanilla, Disneyland, pro-family. There’s a lot of nudity. A lot of sex. A lot of drugs. It’s not a family-friendly environment. And our camp isn’t, either.”

Anti-Defamation League Central Pacific Regional Director Seth Brysk told the J. that the display “tarnishes the memories of those who died, including the 6 million Jews and 5 million others. Particularly in the current environment, where we have a confluence of survivors no longer around to tell their stories, and increased extremism and hatred, we think it’s more important than ever to preserve and respect the memory of the Holocaust.”

The Barbie Death Camp’s website states that they are “home to some of the naughtiest, filthiest, snarkiest burners on and off the playa” and they are located in Auburn, Calif., which is in between Sacramento and Reno, Nev.

Burning Man is an annual gathering of tens of thousands of people featuring various displays and exhibits along what’s known as “Black Rock City”; the goal of the event is to unify varying communities. Burning Man has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

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