Two British teenagers have spent the night in a Polish jail after being arrested at the former Auschwitz death camp on suspicion of stealing artefacts that belonged to former prisoners.
The boys, both 17, attend the £15,000-a-year independent Perse school in Cambridge and were on a history trip to Poland. They are accused of attempting to steal a comb, spoons, buttons and pieces of glass from a building where Nazi guards stored prisoners’ confiscated belongings during the second world war.
Sgt Krzysztof Lach, a spokesman at the Krakow police headquarters, said the teenagers were with a group of friends when they were detained at 3pm on Monday. The boys were questioned on Monday and Tuesday but refused to cooperate with the police investigation, Lach added. A translator was sitting in on the interviews on Tuesday. The pair face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of theft.
Asked what would happen next, the police spokesman said a court would decide whether to release the boys after questioning. “For now it’s hard to say because they are being questioned [by] the investigation team in Oświęcim. The court will decide what to do,” he said.
Lach said the boys were arrested because they were suspected of stealing “some stuff from the museum – two pieces of broken glass, spoons, clothes buttons and a comb. The museum is very important for us and to people from all around the world and the Jewish people,” Lach added.
These two are a disgrace to their country and if the Poles have any sense they will march them to the central square in Krakow and make them apologise publicly to the Polish people and the Jewish community for the desecration of such a historic site.