Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Auschwitz Museum Hit By Theft And Vandalism

From stealing barbed wire that kept millions imprisoned, to writing “I had a smoke here” on the bunks, tourists have been leaving an unwanted mark on the already scarred grounds of Auschwitz

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: May 7th, 2014 in News » World

Auschwitz Museum Hit By Theft And Vandalism

While most countries look to encourage tourism through the summer months, let it be known that some tourists are unwanted at the Auschwitz museum.

And for good reason.

Recently the museum has been hit by a wave of vandalism, and theft, by people wanting to etch their name into history. From walls, to bunks, to the briefcases collected from more than the one million victims whose lives ended tragically in Auschwitz, tourists have been leaving their names scratched onto any surface they can find. According to the Telegraph, Antoni Dudek, a Polish historian, claims that, “This isn’t really vandalism because vandalism is something you do to a bus stop. This is barbarism.”

At the end of March this year an Italian tourist was arrested at Krakow’s Pope John Paul II International Airport as he attempted to smuggle a piece of barbed wire, stolen from the Auschwitz museum, home as a souvenir of the trip. According to a statement from Katarzyna Walczak, a spokeswoman for the Border Guard, “During interrogation, the man said that he took the wire as a souvenir while visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, lifted it from the ground and took it with him.”

The tourist now faces a possible jail sentence ranging from a few months to five years. This will surely make anyone think twice before lifting something from the museum.

While some are asking that a CCTV system be installed, as it’s impossible to guard and observe the staggering 150+ buildings at Auschwitz manually, the culture minister of Poland claims that these cameras would ruin the authenticity of the museum and distract people from absorbing all the museum has to teach them.

Perhaps the solution lies in stricter fines, or jail time, for people who decide they just can’t leave the Auschwitz museum empty handed, as well as education. As put by Bogdan Bartnikowski to Tablet, “if they had been there and feared they would be leaving the next day via the chimney, then they would not be so eager to scratch their name onto a bunk.”

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Auschwitz Museum Hit By Theft And Vandalism

May 07, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Auschwitz Museum Hit By Theft And Vandalism

From stealing barbed wire that kept millions imprisoned, to writing "I had a smoke here" on the bunks, tourists have been leaving an unwanted mark on the already scarred grounds of Auschwitz

Read More

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