On Friday, Netflix released the second half of the fourth season to their hit show, "Stranger Things." The long-awaited conclusion to the most recent installment had audiences on the edge of their seats, whereas Jewish and Romani communities were left horrified.
The season was filmed in part at notorious Lithuanian landmark, Lukiškės Prison. Used as a Nazi detention center for Jewish and Romani prisoners during World War II, fans can now visit the historic plot for its new upgrade as the "Stranger Things" hotel!
A local Lithuanian company, Vinius, alongside the country's government, have turned the landmark into an Airbnb tourist attraction where guests can spend the night in "themed cells" or tour the "Stranger Things" sites throughout the building. They can even make waffles for breakfast after waking up next to the site where over 100,000 Jewish, Romani and political prisoners were murdered during the Ponary Massacre.
A change.org petition is now going viral for its call to hold Netflix accountable. "Jews and Roma Against Bigotry" is demanding that the company donate any profits from the recent reason to marginalized communities in Lithuania, as well as the termination of the Airbnb. They wrote,
"Money earned from this season should be put back into the Jewish and Romani communities of Lithuania as reparations for the damage this season is causing and a public apology from Airbnb, Netflix, and Stranger Things should be issued immediately with a full understanding as to how this adds to the erasure of the victims of the Holocaust and the ongoing persecution of Romani communities. We also demand the immediate shut down of the Airbnb."
This comes after the trend of "Stranger Things" fans imitating the character Eleven's tattoo of numerical numbers on her forearm, another direct reference to Nazi atrocities during the Holocaust. Many Jewish prisoners were forcefully inked with identifying numbers on their forearms upon entering concentration camps, yet "Stranger Things" refers to the trend as "bitchin'."
This is also not the first instance where the Lithuanian government has attempted to erase their complicity in the Nazi's cruelties. "Jews and Roma Against Bigotry" cites another landmark, Seventh Fort, the location of the worst mass-killings in the country's history, which the government "repurposed" into a wedding venue.
To both the nation and Netflix, the organization wrote,
"Not only does this mock the shared trauma of the Jewish and Roma community, but it further desecrates the living memories of Holocaust survivors (a significant portion are alive today) and their descendants."
They finished their statement with a call to donate to Lithuanian Jewish communities, asserting,
"We will not be erased. The Holocaust is not for the entertainment industry to build wealth off of and turn into theatre. It is our genocide and for Roma it is ongoing."