Two Belgians accused of stealing from Auschwitz acquitted by a court in Poland

Sunday, 31 December 2017 00:29
Two Belgians accused of stealing from Auschwitz acquitted by a court in Poland ©Belga
Two Belgians who were accused of trying to take porcelain insulators from the fence surrounding the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz were acquitted by a court in Krakow on Friday.
This was reported by the Polish media agency PAP. The crime is punishable by 10 years in prison.

The two visitors, aged 48 and 51, were arrested in a wood near Auschwitz Museum in July 2016. Unable to explain away their behaviour, they voluntarily offered to serve a one-year suspended prison sentence but the Prosecutor’s office refused the deal. Everything in Auschwitz, including the fence which used to be electrified, now belongs to the Museum. It is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.

The court decided that the three insulators they found on the ground outside the site were definitely “of historical value”, but did not have “particular cultural value”. The court also admitted that the two visitors did not intend to destroy or damage the site.

The most infamous theft from the Auschwitz Museum was the iron sign that reads “Arbeit macht frei”, which was taken from above the main entrance to the camp. It was eventually found and those responsible, including the Swedish man who financed the project to steal it, were sent to prison.

Around 1.1 million people, a million of them Jews from various European countries, were killed in the Nazi’s Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp between 1940 and early 1945. It was the biggest concentration camp of the Second World War, located in occupied Poland. Around 80,000 non-Jewish Poles, 25,000 Roma and 20,000 Soviet soldiers died there. It was liberated by the Red Army in January 1945.

Maria Novak
The Brussels Times
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