Holocaust game room shut amid outcry

At least 1.1 million Jews, Poles, gay and disabled people, and other persecuted minorities were killed at the Auschwitz prison camp.

Story highlights

  • The company advertised: "'Last shower' will await you. But ... you can get out of this room alive"
  • Firm now acknowledges that backlash is "understandable," has stopped selling tickets

(CNN)A Czech company has stopped selling tickets to its Auschwitz-themed "escape room" after facing fierce criticism for casting as a game the experience of Holocaust victims in one of World War II's most notorious concentration camps.

In a statement posted Friday to the Prague-based Dostaň Se Ven's website, the company said it originally designed the game to draw attention to the atrocities of Auschwitz. But it acknowledged that the backlash is "understandable" -- and said it would stop selling tickets immediately.
"We truly took this seriously and wanted to do it with utmost respect," the statement reads.
    Before the announcment, Dostaň Se Ven had taken to Facebook to defend itself against mounting criticism of the game, stating that "Escape from Auschwitz" aimed to "raise awareness (of) the Holocaust."
    Promotional materials first posted to the company's website, however, read more like an amusement park advertisement then an educational initiative.
    Escape rooms typically send competing groups scrambling through a series of mental and physical challenges in order to escape a themed room in the shortest period of time.
    In marketing it's Auschwitz simulation, the company enticed customers to "play an interesting escape game with your friends and put yourself in the shoes of the victims of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 'Last shower' will await you. But there's a difference: you can get out of this room alive," it read.
    Tickets, which sold for 390 Czech Koruna (roughly $15), had been promoted at a special rate ending Friday, which is International Holocaust Memorial Day.

    International backlash

    "Escape from Auschwitz" had drawn fierce condemnation online.
    The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted: "Shocking and sad. Disrespectful to the memory of all victims of the Auschwitz camp."