Urban Dictionary criticized for ‘hurtful, disrespectful’ definition of Auschwitz

February 6, 2020 by JNS
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Urban Dictionary, a crowdsourced online dictionary for slang words and phrases, was condemned by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum for publishing “hurtful and disrespectful” definitions of the word “Auschwitz.”

The “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate at Auschwitz with the bitter irony of the German words: “Work Will Set You Free.” Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Among the website’s 20 different definitions of the Nazi concentration camp are “a summer camp for Jews, “a Disneyland for its time” and “the happy resort for Jews during WW2.”

Another entry states that Auschwitz means, “When in a place there are too many Jews like it would be in Auschwitz.” Or when used as an adjective, Auschwistic: “an adjective to describe someone so stupid they deserve to be put in Auschwits [sic].”

Urban Dictionary, founded in 1999 by American computer-science student Aaron Peckham, attracts as many as 65 million visitors a month and has more than 8 million slang definitions, according to The Jewish Chronicle.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum tweeted on Monday, “Hateful language should not be promoted and given platforms like that,” and accused the online dictionary of promoting “hurtful and disrespectful ‘Auschwitz definitions’ that mock & instrumentalize human death and suffering.”

The museum added that Urban Dictionary’s “definition of antisemitism gets some things right: ‘The discrimination and degrading treatment towards the Jewish people.’ Shameful, that antisemitism is accepted by the dictionary.”

The museum also shared a screenshot that shows an entry on the website for the word “Jews,” defined as: “The people who hold all the world’s power, and who are responsible for everything bad that’s ever happened. If things aren’t going your way, it’s the Jews’ fault.”


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