From ‘Bar’s name leaves bad taste for some’, article by Huang LiJie, 19 Nov 2011, ST
A BAR named Aushwitz at Circular Road yesterday removed its signboard after some members of the public said they were offended by its similarity to Auschwitz, the name of a World War II German concentration camp. Bar manager Maurice John, 39, said the bar, which opened late last month, removed the signboard last night and will also take steps to change its name because of the negative feedback.
The bar registered its name as Auschwitz, according to records from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra). But the name on its signboard – Aushwitz – was spelt without a ‘c’. Mr John, a Singaporean, said he had intended to name the bar Aushwitz, and not as registered.
…He said he picked ‘Aushwitz’ from a list of pub names he found off the Internet. He said he did not immediately associate the name with Auschwitz, which he knew was the name of a concentration camp. He said: ‘I chose it because it was unique. To me, the name reflected a commercial disco and not a girly pub where men go to meet women… We never meant to choose a name to offend anyone.’
…Mr Alexander Gow, 37, a Briton working here as a food and beverage manager, however, found the name so offensive that he e-mailed the German and Israeli embassies and the exporters of Beck’s beer on Thursday to raise the matter. He also posted his view on the issue on his Facebook page, and his friends have been circulating it. He said: ‘It is baffling why they would name an entertainment venue after a site of genocide.’
The name ‘Aushwitz’ is probably ‘unique’ for a COMMERCIAL DISCO, provided the staff are dressed in Nazi garb and herd you on the dancefloor where they gas you to the grim sounds of industrial goth punk. It doesn’t matter if the premises were a disco, girly pub, cafe, bookstore or a child care centre. As long as one gives it an touchy name such as Swastika, Holocaust or Da CHOW (Dachau), you’re bound to rile some Jewish sympathisers. Aushwitz, of course, isn’t the first themed bar/eatery around to get into a fix over an offensive title.
In Mumbai, there used to be a Hitler’s Cross, which sold Nazi memorabilia in addition to food. Seoul had its ‘Fifth Reich’, replete with SS insignia. Taipei, home of the Modern Toilet, had its ‘Jail’, where the washrooms were called the ‘Gas Chamber’ (hur-hur). More recently, to supplement the country’s morbid fascination with Nazi chic, vampire cartoon Hitler keychains were yanked from Taiwanese 7-11s. These Asian cities had little to do with Nazi conquest, but unlike the Singaporean debut of Aushwitz, these Nazi gimmick names were at least grammatically correct. Aushwitz is meaningless in any language (Google search reveals no such suggestion for this as a bar name), and sounds like the bar management was trying their luck to kickstart a Nazi fascination here, hoping that a misspelling would let them off by a technicality.
All this uproar over people exploiting the Holocaust nightmare for their own gain does serve to educate younger, clueless Singaporeans on the evils that Man is capable of, that Nazi ‘culture’ isn’t simply plain amusement, cosplay, or a ploy to sell anything German-made be it cars or electric heaters. Yet everyone seems perfectly fine with the countless Hitler parodies on Youtube. If naysayers are so concerned of clubs reminding the community of a bygone era of horrific, genocidal violence, what about places celebrating the bloodthirsty Genghis Khan then? Like Genghis Khan Mongolian Teppanyaki and International Buffet?
But the real irony is this; despite Singaporeans having an ancestral lineage of victims suffering under the Japanese Occupation during the same World War which brought the world Auschwitz, we’re making a fuss over a concentration camp in Poland tens of thousands of miles away, when few would recall our very own ‘death camp’ right in the heart of Changi. In fact, someone lamented the naming of Changi Airport as such because of Changi’s history of prison atrocities during the Japanese Occupation, which would be considered Singapore’s version of the Holocaust. Except that instead of systematic extermination, prisoners were subject to a slow excruciating death from diseases due to overcrowding. In a ST forum letter in 1981, What’s in an airport’s name. Plenty!;
..It seems rather odd to tourists, many of whom visit the Japanese Surrender Chamber on Sentosa island, that any country should give an international airport a name which has connotations with wartime suffering and cruelty.
The writer would be disappointed to know, 30 years on, that our world-famous airport is still named after the historic location of a notorious POW camp, while a little-known bar selling Becks’ beer can’t make reference to a Nazi concentration camp even with a deliberate typo in its name.