Frenchman arrested for Auschwitz wire theft

20th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Frenchman was arrested Friday for stealing two pieces of barbed wire from the Nazi German-era death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland, officials said.

The man, in his fifties was detained after a scanner detected the wire in his hand luggage during a security check at the airport in Krakow, 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the site of the camp.

"He admitted having taken the pieces as a souvenir of his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau," airport spokesman Marcin Pulit told AFP.

The man's identity was not revealed.

Jaroslaw Mensfelt, spokesman of the Polish state-run memorial and museum at the site, condemned the theft.

"This was an act of desecration of a place of memory. Every object here is priceless," he told AFP.

Auschwitz-Birkenau has become an enduring symbol of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany's wartime campaign of genocide against Europe's Jews.

A year after invading Poland in 1939, the Nazis opened what was to become a vast complex on the edge of the southern town of Oswiecim -- Auschwitz in German.

They later expanded it at the nearby village of Brzezinka, or Birkenau.

Of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, one million were murdered at the site, mostly in its notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

© 2011 AFP

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