There’s been some backlash against a teenager that took a selfie as she toured the Auschwitz concentration camp. We’ve even seen NBA players taking questionable selfies. While people love the instant gratification social media provides, here are some places where selfies should be avoided.
1. Auschwitz – Poland
In the pantheon of bad ideas for selfies, Auschwitz is going to be at the top of the list. This concentration camp is a living part of history, providing stark reminders of what man can do to fellow man. While there are many photo opportunities in this destination in Poland, a self-portrait isn’t one of them.
2. El Valle de los Caídos – Madrid, Spain
There’s more than enough things to see in Madrid. Yet many tourists find themselves going just outside the city to see the “Valley of the Fallen.” There’s no doubting the beauty of the building situated in the Sierra de Guadarrama. But the real issues for many of the Spanish population is that many folks – some of them fascists paying homage – come to see General Francisco Franco’s tomb inside this Catholic basilica. So you could probably imagine how some people might look at you as you take a selfie with his final resting place.
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3. USS Arizona Memorial – Honolulu, Hawaii
The attacks on Pearl Harbor by Japanese imperial forces are commemorated at the site of where the USS Arizona sunk on December 7, 1941. It’s a must for anyone travelling to Honolulu for the fact that you’ll actually see the wreckage directly underneath. A wreckage that still leaks between 2-9 quarts of oil each day. There’s a solemn silence about the place that really has no room for someone to take a picture that could get them trolled mercilessly.
4. Vietnam Veterans Memorial – Washington, D.C.
The Vietnam War was a divisive topic amongst Americans for many decades. And that division held true when Maya Lin unveiled the simple, yet elegant design in 1981. But that’s changed over the years with over 3 million visitors annually coming to the memorial. It’s a place that encourage photos of the names en masse. Even “rubbing” a name with a pencil on a piece of paper is fine. But many could see how taking a selfie with a name – even a name of a family member – could be considered poor judgment.
5. Anne Frank House – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The secret home of Anne Frank and her family is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Amsterdam. Knowing how someone could live in hiding from the Nazis for the better part of two years is incredible. There’s a statue of a little girl in front of the home that’s quite popular for photo ops. But you can see some people making… uh, interesting… choices on taking a photo. Still, that’s a little better than having Justin Bieber write something profoundly dumb in a guestbook.
6. Mussolini’s Crypt – Predappio, Italy
There’s more than enough great things to see and do in the whole of Italy. Yet there are tens of thousands of tourists that come to central Italian town of Predappio on a consistent basis. Why? It’s the hometown of former Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Despite the best efforts of the government, between 80,000 and 100,000 still come to see Mussolini’s crypt. Selfies are still taken with his bust in the background, but you can’t get souvenirs of “Duce” since the sale of fascist souvenirs was outlawed in 2009.
7. Killing Fields – Choeung Ek, Cambodia
The fact that the Khmer Rouge ruled over Cambodia during the late 1970s is upsetting. The fact Pol Pot survived that and still lived until 1998 leaves me gobsmacked. One of the most enduring areas of that time is the Killing Fields. Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh, remains the best known of the mass graves with many bodies still buried there today. And while there is a wonderfully peaceful Buddhist memorial at the location, it isn’t really the place to make your mark on Twitter.
8. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – Berlin, Germany
There’s no gray area in the name of this memorial, nor should there be. The 2,711 concrete slabs in a grid pattern gives the feel of a cemetery. It’s a place of reflection and not your typical memorial within the city limits of Berlin. And certainly a place to give pause before taking any photographs.
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