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Wrestling entertainment giant WWE, known for its fabricated stories, is facing a real controversy after fans noticed that it used an image of the Auschwitz concentration camp to promote a match on Saturday.
The image appeared in a five-minute video featuring a Wrestlemania 39 competition between stars Dominik and Rey Mysterio. The shot, which appeared on the live broadcast pre-show, was used as footage to accompany Dominik’s comments about being a hardened criminal.
The Auschwitz Memorial called WWE “shameless” in a statement on Twitter.
“The fact that (an) image from Auschwitz was used to promote a WWE match is difficult to call ‘an editing error,'” the museum wrote. “To exploit the site that became a symbol of a huge human tragedy is shameless and insults the memory of all the victims of Auschwitz.”
WWE did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment.
The shot of the Polish museum appeared to have been cut from an identical version during the official broadcast, according to WWE Blogging and fans. Does not appear in replays of Wrestlemania Night 1, replaced by generic footage of barbed wire and an unidentifiable, empty prison cell.
The story goes that Dominik turned on his father, WWE Hall of Famer Rey, after being influenced by Judgment Day, a stable of villainous wrestlers.
After a failed attempt to lure his father into a fight, Dominik ended up in jail, which only added to the tough-guy persona he uses to mask his true brat-brat essence. (Dominik arrived on the mat Saturday in a police van. His father was driven by Snoop Dogg in a lowrider.)
The storyline was one of several hits for Wrestlemania fans. The show gave its exclusive streamer, NBC’s Peacock, the most hours watched for any live event except the Superbowl.
The in-person event also made history, setting an attendance record in Sofia Stadium. WWE sold more than 161,000 tickets for two nights of games.
Fans took to social media. during the broadcast to confirm his suspicions about the Auschwitz archival footage.
“100% Auschwitz. I went there last year. I will never forget it,” wrote one Reddit user. “Hoo boy, be a fly on the wall at the next production meeting,” was another response.
He Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp It was built by the Germans in occupied Poland in 1940 and quickly became one of the largest killing centers of World War II. More than 1.1 million men, women, and children were murdered at Auschwitz before the camp was liberated in 1945.