A Hamburg optics store received widespread criticism for its insensitive choice of name—Six Million Glasses—which evokes a Holocaust connotation of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis as well as the image of a huge pile of glasses, disposed of by Auschwitz victims as they went to their deaths. The store announced that they will change the name to A Million Glasses.
A few months ago, a photo of the shop’s sign was uploaded to Facebook and caused an uproar on social media. The business was quick to declare that they were not racists and are opposed to anti-Semitism.
They claimed that the name was inspired by the TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man” and not by anything Holocaust related. An internet debate raged on with some demanding the store change its name and others saying it was a non-issue that some Israelis blew out of proportion.
The store now says it will change its name to prevent any misunderstanding. The name was thus far changed on its website and Facebook page, but its logo still includes the number 6, and the shop's sign has not been changed yet either. The store, however, is promising to do so.
Omer Frenkel, 45, an Israeli conductor working in Germany, was one of the first people to raise the issue on Facebook. He expressed exasperation at the fact that it did not occur to anyone at the shop that the name can be considered hurtful.
Frenkel said he did not think the name choice stemmed from anti-Semitism, but rather a lack of self awareness of the connotation the name evoked and a lack of sensitivity for others' feelings, which he believes is a common trend among German youth.“From my experience living in Germany, I can say that there is a lot of ignorance regarding the Holocaust. In Israel, via the education system, the words “six million” automatically connote the Holocaust… Education in Germany is lacking.”
Frenkel added the lack of sensitivity in the name choice is itself troublesome, as the Germans repress the issue of the Holocaust to the margins and do not invest the necessary resources. “There is no awareness and internalization of history. They make do with lip service on a very shallow level.”
The Israeli expat iterated his belief that if younger generations in Germany did not gain more awareness, history could repeat itself.
The store released a statement, saying, “We have been in operation since 2006 without any problems regarding the name, which was inspired by the TV series “Six Million Dollar Man.”
“We support social tolerance. Our staff is diverse and comprised of people from all ethnicities and orientations and in the past we have assisted refugees and even given away free pairs of glasses during the crisis. The Holocaust connotation never occurred to us until a woman pointed it out last year.”