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Pair admit Auschwitz memorial theft

Israelis detained at airport over items in their luggage

WARSAW, Poland – An Israeli couple have confessed to stealing objects from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp memorial and have settled for a suspended prison term and a fine, officials said Saturday.

The couple were detained at Krakow airport on their way to Israel on Friday after border guards found a few old items, including knives, scissors and spoons, inside a plastic bag in their luggage, memorial spokesman Bartosz Bartyzel said.

The 60-year-old man and 57-year-old woman, whose names have not been released, said they took the items from the memorial site, officials said. Police took them back there and the couple indicated a place in Birkenau where, during World War II, belongings robbed off the death camp victims were stored, said the chief spokesman for the memorial, Janusz Mensfelt.

“We can safely assume that the objects they stole were original, from that time,” Mensfelt said.

Prosecutor Mariusz Slomka told Polish media that the couple confessed to stealing the objects, which have historic value, and settled for a suspended prison term and a fine, which Slomka did not specify.

In the most notorious case of theft at Auschwitz, a Swedish man and five Poles have been convicted and handed prison terms for stealing and damaging the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Sets You Free) sign from the Auschwitz main gate in 2009. The sign has been retrieved and repaired. A replica has been put in its place.


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