Stag parties at Auschwitz

Travel companies offer lap dancing, bar crawls — and trips to the death camp

By Marcus Dysch, March 18, 2010
Auschwitz is being sold as an optional extra for stag groups visiting Krakow

Auschwitz is being sold as an optional extra for stag groups visiting Krakow

Holocaust survivors and education groups have attacked the promotion of Auschwitz as a tour destination for stag parties.

Trips to the concentration camp are offered by two British companies providing pre-wedding weekends which also include lap dancing, bar crawls and go-karting.

Party-goers can put together their own tailor-made weekends, choosing from different "activities" or pay for a package trip.

Auschwitz survivor Martin Bennett said: "It is terrible. Auschwitz is not a joyride or a holiday camp. It is a solemn place for people to learn about history.

"For companies to be making money out of this is wrong. They should not be cashing in. It should be for the Holocaust Educational Trust and schools and colleges to take people, not stag do companies.

"People should feel sick about this. I'm shattered by it."

Krakow is an increasingly popular destination for British stag parties. The city centre is around 45 minutes away from the camp, where more than one million people were murdered by the Nazis.

The Last Night of Freedom site offers two-nights in three-star accommodation in the city as part of the "Auschwitz Experience Weekend". The trip costs £115 per person. The first day includes a bar crawl and visit to a lap dancing club, followed by the death camp tour the following day.

The company's Paul Luke said the majority of people taking the trip were "aged 30 to 40" and "working professionals".

He said: "The Auschwitz tour is not a big seller for us. We are not a smash-and-grab company that takes the money and does not give a monkey's about the city we send people to. Stag nights are not all about big groups running amok. They would only go there if they knew in advance what Auschwitz is and were people who knew full well what they were going to see."

Mr Luke said the company had never received a complaint in five years of organising the tours.

The Chillisauce site also offers tours. Managing director James Baddiley said: "We started offering the tours two years ago as a result of the large number of people who were going to Krakow.

"People were asking if we could arrange it for them, as they felt it would be a missed opportunity if they went all that way and did not visit Auschwitz."

Jakub Misztal, who leads the company's tour of the camp, said: "Our experience shows that Auschwitz tours are chosen by a group of customers who are aware of the history and character of the place. I'm happy that so many of them are interested in doing something more than traditional stag party activities.

"The groups that are booking this are not drunken idiots with offensive T-shirts and inflatable bananas on their heads."

Karen Pollock, Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive, said: "We encourage anyone with the opportunity to visit Auschwitz to do so, but as a site of mass murder any visit should be advertised appropriately and taken in a sensitive and dignified way."

Last updated: 4:45pm, March 18 2010