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WWE Issues Apology for Using Photo of Auschwitz in ‘WrestleMania’ Promo

WWE issued an apology Friday after facing backlash in recent days for using an image of the Auschwitz concentration camp in a promo video for a match that took place during WrestleMania 39.

The pro wrestling promotion has been under fire since the startling inclusion of a photo of Auschwitz was discovered in a video hyping the Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio match after it aired on the Night 1 pre-show on April 1. After initially staying quiet on the matter, WWE addressed the controversy in a statement on Friday, confirming the image was promptly removed upon its discovery before apologizing for the offensive gaffe.

“We had no knowledge of what was depicted. As soon as we learned, it was removed immediately. We apologize for this error,” the statement read, per NBC News

The company’s response to the controversial promo comes nearly a week after the backlash began, with many fans up in arms after a tweet of the image went viral during the show. In the promo, the Auschwitz footage was featured as B-roll behind audio of Dominik Mysterio, whose character went to prison, saying, “You think this is a game to me? I served hard time. And I survived.”

As WWE faced waves of criticism in the days that followed, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum released a statement on Wednesday blasting the company for “exploiting the site.” According to multiple reports following the event, the Auschwitz footage was replaced with generic images of an empty jail cell with barbed wire prior to Night 2, and has been promptly removed from all replays of WrestleMania 39 Night 1.

“The fact that Auschwitz image was used to promote a WWE match is hard to call ‘an editing mistake’,” the Auschwitz Memorial stated in a tweet on April 5. “Exploiting the site that became a symbol of enormous human tragedy is shameless and insults the memory of all victims of Auschwitz.”