British teens sentenced in theft of Auschwitz artifacts


(JTA) — Two British teenagers arrested in Poland for stealing artifacts from the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum were fined and given suspended sentences.

The teens, on a class trip from The Perse School in Cambridge, England, were fined 1,000 Polish zloty ($2,600), given one-year probation, which was suspended for three years, and released by local police, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.

The teens, both 17, were found to have buttons, a fragment of a hair clipper and a piece of a spoon that belonged to prisoners of Birkenau in their backpacks.

They were charged with “misappropriation of objects that are artifacts of special cultural significance,” the Krakow Gazette reported.

The school said in a statement that the boys “picked up the fragments in the Canada section of the camp. They co-operated fully with the authorities and admitted taking the items. They are deeply sorry for the offence they have caused.”

School headmaster Ed Elliott said: “There will be a full and thorough investigation into what occurred. I want to hear directly from the boys as to what led them to take these items. I want to ensure that all necessary lessons are learnt. The opportunity to be able to visit Holocaust sites carries with it the duty to treat those sites with the utmost respect and sensitivity.”

Deputy Inspector Mariusz Ciarka of the Malopolska police told the local media that the teens did not appear to realize the gravity of their alleged crime and were unfamiliar with “the dramatic history associated with Auschwitz. In contrast, museum staff are particularly sensitive to these types of incidents.”

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