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Auschwitz 'I will survive' dance video is internet sensation

Tony Paterson
Friday 16 July 2010 00:00 BST

A video showing a Jewish Holocaust survivor and his grandchildren singing and dancing to the tune "I will survive" at the entrance to the Auschwitz death camp has provoked a storm of controversy after receiving more than half a million hits on YouTube.

The film, by the Australian artist Jane Korman, shows her father Adolek Kohn, 89, once a prisoner in Auschwitz, and her three children singing Gloria Gaynor's song outside the death camp in Poland and at several other former Holocaust sites. "It is meant as a celebration of life and survival," Ms Korman declared in an interview. "I wanted to make artwork that creates a fresh interpretation of history."

Her film shows the family dancing at a memorial to the Warsaw ghetto, at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany and at the Theresienstadt camp in the Czech Republic. At Auschwitz, the family is shown doing a three-line dance in front of the infamous sign "Arbeit Macht Frei" wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan "Survivor".

Mr Kohn ends the video with an emotional message in which he describes his return to Poland with his grandchildren as a "really historic" moment. "We're dancing, we should be dancing: we're celebrating our survival and the generations after me. We are affirming our existence."

The film was posted on YouTube and has since received more than half a million hits. Many of the responses have been positive.

"This is beautiful. No one has more of a right to dance in these places of death than this man and his grandchildren," wrote one viewer.

However, it has provoked an angry reaction from other death camp survivors. "It seems to trivialise the horrors that were committed," said Kamil Cwiok, 86. "I don't see how this video is a mark of respect for the millions who didn't survive or for those who did."

* Today the video was no longer available on YouTube "due to a copyright claim by APRA".

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