Death Camp Museum Drops 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

The Majdanek death camp in eastern Poland, where a planned July production of the rock opera
The Majdanek death camp in eastern Poland, where a planned July production of the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" was canceled in the wake of objections by Jewish leaders. (By Czarek Sokolowski -- Associated Press)
By Monika Scislowska
Associated Press Writer
Friday, April 21, 2006

WARSAW, April 20 -- A former Nazi death camp has canceled plans to host a production of the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar," the director of the site's museum said Thursday.

Edward Balawejder, director of the State Museum at Majdanek, said he changed his mind about hosting a production of the musical after Polish newspapers reported Jewish leaders' objections.

"It was not a good idea. It did not take into consideration the relations between Christianity and Judaism," Balawejder told the Associated Press. "I decided that there will be no performance because we must stick to the message of the museum, which is truth, memory, reconciliation."

Director Jacek Boniecki of the Lublin Musical Theater in eastern Poland said the intention of the July production had been to present universal issues with no religious context.

"The monument is site of many international concerts, of prayers of many religions, and it is a neutral place," Boniecki said.

Piotr Kadlcik, leader of Poland's Jewish community, said he was "very happy" that the performance would not take place.

Former Israeli ambassador to Poland Shewach Weiss said on TVN24 television that Balawejder's mistake had "been set right now and we should move forward toward reconciliation and solidarity."

Museum officials say 230,000 people, including about 100,000 Jews, were killed during World War II in Majdanek, one of a network of Nazi death camps in occupied Poland.

"Jesus Christ Superstar," which debuted on Broadway in 1971, tells the story of the last days of Jesus. It was criticized by some Christians as sacrilegious, while some Jewish groups complained it was anti-Semitic and showed most villains as Jewish.

Boniecki said the performance will take place in another open-air site.

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