Australian glasses co. under fire for ad campaign filmed at Holocaust death camp
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Australian glasses co. under fire for ad campaign filmed at Holocaust death camp

Saying it was unaware of site’s sensitivity, Valley Eyewear apologizes and takes down pictures and video shot at Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia

Illustrative: Members of the Jewish community walk in front of a memorial in the shape of a flower in Jasenovac on April 15. 2016. (AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)
Illustrative: Members of the Jewish community walk in front of a memorial in the shape of a flower in Jasenovac on April 15. 2016. (AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)

An Australian glasses company apologized and took down its new ad campaign after coming under fire earlier this week for filming it on the grounds of a Holocaust death camp in Croatia.

In the photos and video shots for Valley Eyewear’s new “Black Zero” collection, a concrete flower statue erected in memory of the tens of thousands killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp can be seen in the background.

Valley Eyewear director Michael Crawley told the BBC that his company was unaware that it was a death camp when they arrived to film there. “We didn’t want to offend anybody. We’re a respectful brand. I apologize to anyone who’s offended,” he said.

Crawley said he agreed to take the pictures and videos down after the head of the Jasenovac memorial reached out to him.

The ads were harshly criticized on social media, with one user asking the company on Twitter why they didn’t just film it in Auschwitz. Another said the company was innitialy dismissive of concerns and posted a screen shot of the response he received from what appeared to be Valley Eyewear’s official Facebook page.

Valley Eyewear (Screencapture)

“”Why ….because it offends u ? How about NO …!!!!! If u don’t like what we do how about u look at someting else … go away u fuckwit,” the company responded.

Responding to the ad campaign, Australia’s Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said he was “shocked beyond words.”

“While we welcome the apology by the company’s founder, we urge him to explain how he came to believe that shooting the commercial at this concentration camp was appropriate,” Abramovich said in a statement.

Located some 60 miles southeast of Zagreb, the Jasenovac camp was run by the country’s Nazi-allied Ustasha regime, which persecuted and killed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs, Jews, Roma, and anti-fascist Croatians.

The total number of people killed at Jasenovac — mostly Serbs, Jews, Roma, and anti-fascist Croatians — remains disputed. It varies from tens of thousands to 700,000, according to Serbian figures.

Some 75 percent of around 40,000 Croatian Jews were killed by the Ustasha, and Jews now make up less then one percent of Croatia’s population of 4.2 million.

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