23/06/2015 18:12 BST | Updated 23/06/2015 23:59 BST

Teenagers Arrested Over Auschwitz Theft Escape With A Fine

Two British teenagers have been fined and given suspended sentences for stealing items that belonged to prisoners at Auschwitz.

The 17-year-old boys, who attend the £15,000-a-year Perse School in Cambridge, were visiting the site of the concentration camp as part of a history trip, Reuters reports.

The pair were spotted acting suspiciously at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in southern Poland and were held at the police headquarters in Oswiecim.

The teenagers were found with a fragment of hair clippers, spoons, some buttons and two pieces of glass after they were apprehended in warehouse number five - known as Canada - where the belongings of the Auschwitz arrivals were seized during the Holocaust.


Auschwitz, the site of the former concentration camp

The pair admitted taking the items of historical importance and were released on Tuesday afternoon.

A spokesman for the school said that they were fined 1,000 zloty (about £170) and given a one-year probation, suspended for three years. 

He added: "The boys, neither of whom is yet 18, picked up the fragments in the Canada section of the camp.

"They co-operated fully with the authorities and admitted taking the items. They are deeply sorry for the offence they have caused."

The offence could have been punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The Holocaust Educational Trust's chief executive, Karen Pollock, said: "This is absolutely shocking and shows gross disregard to the memory of the Holocaust.

"Every single artefact found at Auschwitz-Birkenau tells a story of the more than a million people who were ruthlessly murdered by the Nazis there and this incident serves to show why our work is crucial now more than ever.

"We have a duty to educate the next generation to prevent ignorance and hate, and in over 15 years of organising for thousands of British teenagers to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, we have never known of such an incident.

"We would gladly work with these young boys to ensure they understand the implications of their actions although this is now a matter for the police."

Visitors have tried to steal artefacts as souvenirs from the museum in the past.

In 2010, a Swedish man was jailed for organising the theft of the Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes You Free) sign from the entry gate of Auschwitz.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was founded in 1947 and receives more than 80,000 British visitors each year.


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