Tourists caught trying to smuggle bricks out of Auschwitz


The famed “Arbeit macht frei” sign at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, August 2007. (Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — Two visitors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum were caught trying to steal bricks from one of the crematoria located in the former Nazi death camp.

The two Hungarian tourists, a man, 36, and a woman, 30, were caught on Saturday after two other tourists saw them hiding the bricks in a bag and notified security, the Polish-language reported.

They both admitted to the attempted theft. They were each fined 1,500 zloty, or about $400, and given a suspended jail sentence of one year, AFP reported.

“They explained that they had wanted to bring back a souvenir and didn’t realize the consequences of their actions,” regional police press officer Mateusz Drwal told the Polish news agency PAP.

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They are not the first tourists to steal artifacts from the former Nazi death camp.

In December 2015 two British 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. In March, 2014, an Italian tourist was arrested for trying to smuggle a piece of barbed wire out of the site.

In 2009, the “Arbeit macht frei” sign was stolen from above the entrance to the Auschwitz I concentration camp. The three thieves were given sentences ranging from six months to 2 1/2 years.