Published on 23 Jun 2015 Sections ,

Auschwitz: teens arrested over artefacts theft

Two British teenagers face a decade in a Polish jail after being arrested for allegedly stealing items that belonged to prisoners from the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The British teenagers from Cambridge, both 17, were arrested yesterday afternoon after allegedly taking items from the site.

A picture released by Polish authorities showed the buttons and pieces of glass. Spoons, a comb and fragments of a razor were also allegedly taken.

Police said the boys were arrested for carrying out activities related to the misappropriation of objects that represent special cultural importance.

The boys were “probably on a school trip” said Sergeant Krzystof Lach, a police spokesman in Krakow, told the Guardian. They were detained at 3pm on Monday and spent the night in a juvenile jail.

‘Real remorse’

The boys are pupils at independent Perse School, Cambridge. A statement released by the school said that the pupils “attempted to keep some items of historical importance which they had found on the ground”.

“We understand they have explained that they picked up the items without thinking, and they have apologised unreservedly for the offence they have given, and expressed real remorse for their action.”

A spokesman for the museum on the site of the camp said that the pupils were seen acting suspiciously near a building where confiscated belongings of prisoners were stored. A search of the boys led to the discovery of the objects.

A picture released by Polish authorities showed the buttons and pieces of glass. Spoons, a comb and fragments of a razor were also allegedly taken.

If found guilty the teenagers could be jailed for up to 10 years, but may be let go with a fine.

During the second world war around 1.5 million people were gassed, hanged, burned or shot at the camp.