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Netflix Under Fire for Filming Stranger Things 4 in a Former Nazi Prison

A petition with close to 10,000 signatures aims to "hold Netflix accountable" for filming in the prison.
  • David Harbour in Stranger Things Season 4 (Photo: Netflix)
    David Harbour in Stranger Things Season 4 (Photo: Netflix)

    Netflix is under fire for its decision to film Stranger Things Season 4 in the Lukiškės Prison in Vilnius, Lithuania, where Nazis imprisoned Jewish people, many of whom were eventually executed in the Ponary massacre. A new Change.org petition with nearly 10,000 signatures aims to "hold Stranger Things and Netflix accountable for their Holocaust erasure" and calls on the service to donate profits from the season to the Jewish and Rromani communities of Lithuania as "reparations."

    The petition also takes issue with Airbnb's effort to convert Lukiškės cells into an overnight hotel made to look like the set of Stranger Things. Signees demand "the immediate shutdown of the Airbnb," which began hosting visitors June 4.

    In this regard, the signees seem to have gotten their wish: shortly after announcing that the prison would be opening to Airbnb visitors, the tourism company behind the installation, Go Vilnius, shut down the project. "The installation is not available for booking from 1 June and it has not admitted any visitors," said Go Vilnius in a statement.

    In addition, the petition claims fans of the series are now getting numerical tattoos on their arms and posting them on Instagram, with the Stranger Things Instagram account reposting some of those photos.

    "Not only does this mock the shared trauma of the Jewish and Rroma community, but it further desecrates the living memories of Holocaust survivors (a significant portion are alive today) and their descendants," the petition reads.

    "We, Jews and Rroma, call you to sign this petition and hold Stranger Things and Netflix accountable for their Holocaust erasure," it continues. "Money earned from this season should be put back into the Jewish and Rromani 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 Rromani communities."

    The Lukiškės Prison was constructed in the early 20th century and housed both criminals and political prisoners. During the Nazi occupation of Lithuania in 1941, the prison became a holding cell for Jewish people; that year, 348 Jews and others who had been imprisoned at Lukiškės were murdered in the Ponary massacre, the mass murder of 100,000 people, mostly Jews, Poles, and Russians, between July 1941 and August 1944 near the railway station at Ponary, a suburb of today's Vilinius, Lithuania.

    Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.

    This story has been updated to reflect the shutdown of the Lukiškės Prison Airbnb.

    Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.

    TOPICS: Stranger Things, Netflix