Czech Nazi Occupation Reality Show Draws Criticism

Czech Nazi Occupation Reality Show 'Holiday in the Protectorate' - H 2015
Courtesy of Ceske Televize

"What are they going to do next? 'Big Brother Auschwitz'?" asks one critic.

A Czech TV reality show that recreates life under Nazi occupation is drawing criticism in the country and abroad.

Critics say the show, Holiday in the Protectorate (Dovolenu v Protektoratu), which premiered on Saturday, is in poor taste and disrespects those who died in WWII.

A columnist in the English-language The Times of Israel commented that "fortunately" those taking part in the show would not be treated like "members of my family" killed during the Holocaust.

London's Daily Telegraph quoted one critic of the show as saying in an online forum: "What are they going to do next? Big Brother Auschwitz?"

Reaction has also been critical in the Czech Republic where popular daily tabloid Blesk was due Monday to host a live Q&A session with the show's director. And English-language site asked, "Has reality television gone too far?"

The show, shot last summer in a remote mountainside village by national state broadcaster CT (Ceske Televize), features a modern-day family living under wartime conditions, with actors playing Nazi soldiers and neighboring villagers.

Titles for the eight episodes of the show include "Rules of Survival” and “With the Gestapo at My Back." The Nazis set up the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia after their forces occupied what was then Czechoslovakia in March 1939. The country was divided with Nazi puppet states set up in Bohemia and Moravia and Slovakia. Border areas, known as the Sudetenland -- where most of the population was made up of ethnic Germans or Austrians -- had been annexed earlier after the Munich Agreement of 1938.

Three generations of one family are featured in the show enduring life as it was lived then, with paltry rations and the omnipresent fear of living under Nazi occupation.

Zora Cejnkova, the show's director, told AFP that she had "spent a long time looking for a concept that would allow me to show life in another era while ensuring the highest level of authenticity."

Renee Gherd-Zand, a columnist for The Times of Israel, questioned the ethics of a show that sees "people being intimidated by [actors playing] German soldiers and Nazi informers."

She added: "Fortunately for the family, they will not be treated like the 82,309 Jews who lived in the Protectorate and were deported by the Nazis to concentration and death camps, or were killed by Czech collaborators."