Their arms raised in a Nazi salute, two young tourists pose alongside a waxwork of Adolf Hitler.

This was the sight which greeted an Israeli couple on a visit to Madame Tussauds in London.

The couple, whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, photographed the incident and complained about the tourists’ behaviour, which they described as ‘an unequivocal demonstration of anti-semitism and bigotry’.

But while Tussauds apologised for any offence caused, it insisted: ‘We proactively encourage our visitors to interact with the waxworks should they so choose.

‘We absolutely defend the right of our visitors to make such choices for themselves, as long as they behave themselves responsibly.’

Its comments were described as appalling and insensitive by Lord Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

The unnamed couple,  who live in London with their baby  son, visited Madame Tussauds this month, joining the crowds of summer tourists queueing to see waxworks of celebrities including David Beckham, Kylie Minogue and the Royal Family.

They described the figure of Hitler as ‘extraordinarily disturbing’.

In a written complaint to the London attraction, they said: ‘Not only was it upsetting to see such an evil person replicated in the museum, but we were horrified to see tourists posing with Hitler and doing a “Heil Hitler” salute.

‘We are the grandchildren of concentration camp survivors – the very people that Hitler tried to kill.

‘To see him memorialised was painful and to see people smiling, posing with him and saluting him with a “Heil Hitler” – an unequivocal demonstration of anti-semitism and bigotry – was disturbing and hurtful beyond words.’

The Israeli woman asked for the waxwork to be removed from display, adding: ‘I believe such a statue is offensive to all minorities who Hitler tried to exterminate, including Jews.’

The model of the Fuhrer had previously been displayed behind glass because of frequent attacks from visitors who spat on it or pelted it with eggs.

But in 2002 it was moved into the Great Hall to stand alongside Winston Churchill and other leaders from history, as organisers said it would ‘create a more emotionally-charged experience’.