Customers are threatening to boycott the Australian-based company Valley Eyewear for filming and ad on the grounds of the Jasenovac concentration camp where more than 83,000 people were murdered.
The firm apologized on Tuesday for the black and white video — that has since been taken down – which shows a couple donning the brand’s sunglasses and strolling around monuments erected to honor the dead.
The Yugoslav-era memorials in what is now modern-day Croatia were designed by architect Bogdan Bogdanovic in 1966 to commemorate the more than 83,000 Serbs, Jews and others (though, some historians argue this figure is likely much greater) who were slaughtered by the Ustasha fascist regime between 1941 and 1945. The government aligned itself with Nazi Germany during World War II and has been held responsible for the deaths of over 20,000 children.
Valley eyewear said that the ad for its “Black” line of shades was “filmed on location in Croatia at one of World War II's most historic and darkest locations. JASENOVAC," according to USA Today “(The ad was filmed) in memory of the tens of thousands of people that perished at the site.”
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The director of the Jasenovac Memorial, Ivo Pejakovic, said that the area has guards and that filming on the grounds is permitted but that those who work there are not responsible for ascertaining each individual’s intent when a camera is involved.
"We don't have any fences, walls or barriers, and of course you could record inside the site,” Pejakovic told Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti. “There are security guards, but they cannot know who would use the photos and for which purpose."
The company’s founder Michael Crawley said that he and his team wanted to film the “Spomeniks,” or modernist sculptures in the vicinity and apologized further for upsetting anyone with the ad.
"I have been in contact with the head of the Jasenovac memorial and one of the heads of the Jewish community in Australia to send our apologies,” Crawley wrote for German news site, Deutsche Welle. “(The ad was pulled) since some images have offended people which was NEVER what we had wanted in a million years."
But many on social media have still slammed Valley Eyewear, some asking if the company even knows “what the Holocaust is.”