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Fact Check-No anti-Russian stickers found at the Auschwitz Memorial

Social media users are sharing posts, illustrated with photographs, claiming that Ukrainian activists have stuck anti-Russian stickers on walls and fences at Auschwitz. But a spokesperson for the Auschwitz Memorial told Reuters that no such stickers had been found. An analysis of the photos suggested they had been doctored.

The photos show red, white and black stickers placed on unidentified walls and fences. They include the headline: “Russia & Russians” along with the message: “The only gas you and your country deserve is Zyklon B” - a reference to the poison gas used in Nazi death camps.

According to social media users, the stickers were placed around the Auschwitz Memorial on June 22, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, known as the Day of Memory and Sorrow in Russia (here).

Several of the posts suggested the stickers were evidence of anti-Russian prejudice.

One published on Twitter by the Russian Arms Control Delegation in Vienna (here) read: “They say: 'There is no Russophobia', they claim 'There is no threat for Russia'! They lie to your eyes.” The same post was retweeted by the Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (here and here).

Referring to the purported mentions of Zyklon B on the stickers, one social media user said: “We are talking about poison gas, which was used by the Nazis in the gas chambers… Let us remember that Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army” (here).

The Auschwitz Memorial said no such stickers had been reported or found at the places depicted in the images.

“Everything indicates that the photographs are simply a manipulation, and the incident should be treated in terms of primitive and gross propaganda,” it said in its Tweeted statement.

A spokesperson for the museum told Reuters in a follow-up email that security cameras had also not captured anyone fixing stickers to the specific locations on or before June 2022.

Hany Farid, a professor of computer science with a specialization in image analysis and digital forensics at the University of California, Berkely, told Reuters he believed the images were likely manipulated.

Attaching a GIF animation in which the stickers were aligned from two different photos, seen ibb.co/qByDX2K, he said: “You can see that they are nearly identical in shape, which is highly unlikely given that photographing from even slightly different angles would induce some amount of perspective distortion.

“One of the stickers is also improbably dangling off the fence and yet is perfectly straight.”

The Auschwitz Memorial preserves the site of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp (twitter.com/AuschwitzMuseum and www.auschwitz.org/en/).

A glossary entry for Zyklon B on the memorial website describes the substance as a pesticide that was initially designated for exclusively eradicating insects (bit.ly/3Ra3PSa).

“From the end of the summer of 1941, it was also used sporadically to put to death Auschwitz I prisoners and Soviet POWs,” according to the entry. Zyklon B was then used regularly to murder Jews in the Birkenau gas chambers from the spring of 1942.

VERDICT

No evidence. There is no evidence that the stickers were placed around the Auschwitz Memorial. An analysis indicated that the photographs are likely digitally altered.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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