Young children paraded through the streets with yellow stars sewn to their left lapels, dancers in striped pyjamas waving Israeli flags and behind them officers in SS Waffen uniforms toting machine guns.
Welcome to the carnival procession in Las Mesas, a town in Cuenca province of Castilla-La Mancha, when a cultural association chose the Holocaust as their theme for celebration.
The display continued with a swastika wearing dominatrix brandishing her whip and flanked by dobermans atop a float designed to recreate Auschwitz, complete with twin chimneys.
The whole procession was choreographed to a Rosalia song. Another float represented the gates of the death camp with the infamous slogan “Arbeit macht frei“ – work sets you free” and yet another was a representation of a German tank.
Watch a video clip of the carnival parade below:
Pictures from the event were posted on social media and quickly drew criticism from the Israeli Embassy in Spain which condemned the “blatant display of antisemitism” from the Asociación Cultural El Chaparral, which organised the event.
“My revulsion and total rejection of the atrocious banalization of the #Holocaust that took place at the Carnival of Campo de Criptana. It is an affront to the memory of the victims of the Shoá and an intolerable display of #antisemitism,” wrote Israeli ambassador to Madrid, Rodica Radian-Gordon.
Mi repulsa y total rechazo por la infame banalización del #Holocausto que ha tenido lugar en el carnaval de Campo de Criptana. Es una afrenta a la memoria de las víctimas de la Shoá y una intolerable manifestación de #antisemitismo.
— Embajadora de Israel ??(@Isr_Amb_Esp) February 25, 2020
It also produced strong condemnation on social media across Spain with the slogan #EsFascismoNoesCarnaval (Fascism is not for Carnival) becoming a trending topic.
Según dicen es “un homenaje a las víctimas del Holocausto” No sé ni qué pensar después de lo visto.?De verdad que quiero pensar que se trata ignorancia supina y mal gusto, PERO JODER QUE DIFÍCIL LO HAN PUESTO… pic.twitter.com/R4mTVxld7c
— M.C ?(@MCARRILLEJO) February 24, 2020
Dimas Donate, a local school teacher witnessed the parade and was absolutely appalled. He took photographs which he has shared with The Local Spain because he simply couldn't believe his eyes.
The parade included kids dressed as Jewish children with yellow stars pinned to their chests. Photo by Dimas Donate.
“The reaction of the people around me seemed to suggest they were not aware of what was happening,”he told The Local Spain. “That's what happens when you normalize fascism at a party, it's taken as a party.”
The city council of Campo de Criptana, the authority responsible for staging the carnival event was forced to release a statement on Tuesday distancing itself from the misguided choice of theme.
A statement explained that although the cultural association had stated its intention to represent the Holocaust as a carnival theme, the understanding was that it would be in a way that would be “a tribute to the millions of people who unjustly died in the extermination that took place during the Second World War”.
“As stated in his request to participate in the regional parade of the municipality, the assembly intends to make mention of one of the most dishonorable events in the history of mankind: the Holocaust,” says the City Council.
Comunicado oficial en relación con la representación “Holocausto” de la Asociación Cultural El Chaparral, de Las Mesas (Cuenca) pic.twitter.com/NLNN6mgTfd
— Campo de Criptana (@Ayto_Criptana) February 25, 2020
Permission for the parade was granted, the statement explained, because it was expected to represent a “strong condemnation of the Holocaust”.
“However, once we saw the display we share the criticisms it produced. If the initial objective was to commemorate the victims, it is clear that it has not been achieved,” the statement concluded.
HORRIFIC – Nazis and Israeli Holocaust flag bearing women are the central theme for Spain’s Carnival celebrations today inin the village of Campo de Criptana. pic.twitter.com/oqnWtVepHB
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) February 25, 2020
Further parades planned for carnival events by the same troupe in neighbouring towns have now been cancelled.