The picture was put on the cover of the pamphlet, which invited students to the welcoming sermon at the college’s chapel on Thursday.
It featured the gates to the Auschwitz camp where over a million people were killed in 1940-45, with slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (‘Work makes you free’ in German) above them.
“I have no idea at all what the possible aim of this is, or whether it’s some kind of joke about entering university life,” a second-year student, who requested anonymity, said, according to the Cambridge News website.
“The students who have seen that are understandably upset,” he said, adding that the college has many Jewish students.
Emmanuel College Dean, the Rev Jeremy Caddick, explained that the leaflet wasn’t at meant as offensive or a “sick joke,” calling such claims “infuriating,” according to the Cambridge News.
The image for Auschwitz “is there because some of the choir went on a trip to Poland. It included a visit to Auschwitz. The sermon is a reflection of that,” he said.
“The point of putting the picture there is that it is an iconic image of evil,” the dean added.
Caddick’s sermon drew comparisons between Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe, who opted to take the place of another Auschwitz prisoner slated for execution, and Jesus Christ.
Emmanuel College later acknowledged that putting an image of a Nazi concentration camp on its leaflet was a mistake.
“We understand that, without context, this image may have upset people and we apologize for its use in a way that has caused distress,” a spokesman for the college said.