A Spanish carnival troupe has caused controversy by performing a Holocaust-themed dance routine at a parade in Spain, drawing criticism from Jewish groups and the Israeli embassy in Madrid.

The town of Campo de Criptana, about 68 miles southeast of Madrid, hosted its annual parade which featured brightly coloured floats and various dance groups. One of the groups to perform featured dancers wearing Nazi uniforms wielding machine guns whilst other dancers dressed as Jewish women, the victims, wearing costumes that mixed the striped outfits worn by Holocaust victims with wedding dresses. The girls wore a skull and a Star of David on their heads whilst they danced waving Israel flags. They also had blood on their chests and fake hearts exposed to depict them being shot in the heart.

“Horrified by the Carnival parade in Campo de Criptana,” tweeted Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Laya. “I totally reject any trivialization of the Holocaust,” she said.

“After contacts with organisers, they apologised to the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain,” she wrote.

A spokesman for the Chaparral Cultural Association, which organised the parade, said the group had also called the Israeli embassy to explain that it had not intended to cause insult and that the aim had been to honour victims “with maximum respect”.

Israel’s embassy in Madrid had condemned the “vile and appalling show” in a tweet, saying it “mocks the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis”.

A spokesman for the group, Carlos Jimenez said, “We have apologized for possible grievances that may have been caused.” Adding that it had closed down its Facebook page after receiving threats and insults.

He said, “Our intention was good, it was not to incite hatred.”

Shimon Samuels, director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organisation, drew parallels with a Belgian carnival parade in Aalst that was withdrawn from the United Nations’ list of recognised cultural events over accusations of racism and anti-Semitism.

“It’s a dangerous step, and a warning sign that the same [anti-Semitic] sentiment may be infecting Spain,” Samuels told Reuters.

It was not clear whether organisers had anti-Semitic ideas but “the way this is being read is devastating,” he said, calling for better education about the Holocaust.

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