Polish court to hear case of British teens accused of stealing artifacts from Auschwitz

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A Polish court will not drop a case against two British teens accused of stealing items from the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum in Poland.

The 17-year-olds from Hertfordshire, in southern England face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty by a court in Oswiecim, where the former Nazi death camp is located.

A court in Krakow on Monday decided not to drop the case against the teens, who initially pleaded guilty and were levied a 1,000 Polish zloty fine, worth about $2,600, as punishment for the June  2015 incident. The case, on charges of simple theft, now moves to the Oswiecim court.

Museum guards stopped the teenagers while they were on a trip with the independent 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.

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They were allowed to return home after pleading guilty, but later their attorneys called for the case to be dropped, asserting that the teens were not aware of the special cultural significance of the objects.