(JTA) – A Polish court fined two British teenagers who tried to steal items from the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum.
Along with levying fines of $500 each on the 19-year-olds, a Krakow judge also ordered them each to donate more than $1,500 to the Memorial Foundation for the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The teens, from Hertfordshire, were 17 in June 2015 when the incident occurred.
Museum guards stopped them while they were on a trip with the private Perse School in Cambridge. The teens were found to have hidden in their bags fragments of a hair clipper, glass from the barracks and buttons taken from the area of the former Birkenau camp called “Canada,” where during the war stood warehouses filled with items looted from Jews.
The teens initially pleaded guilty and were levied a fine as punishment. They were allowed to return to Cambridge.
Later, their attorneys withdrew their admission of guilt, saying they were not aware that the items had special cultural significance.
The teens were charged initially with stealing goods of special importance to the well-being of culture, which carries a 10-year jail sentence. But after experts told the court that the items were of no special cultural significance, the charges were reduced to damaging a site of historical importance.