The administrators of the Auschwitz museum have been left helpless by a wave of theft and vandalism at the site of Nazi Germany’s most notorious death camp.
Visitors have scratched messages onto bunks where prisoners once slept, and people are increasingly removing “souvenirs” from the camp that claimed the lives of more than a million people during the Second World War.
In some cases vandals have etched their name with the tag “was here” onto walls and furniture, while one wrote “I had a smoke here”. Others have stolen items such as bits of barbed wire and spikes from railway line that transported people to the infamous camp that operated in German occupied Poland during the war.
“It’s not always young people,” said Piotr Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz museum. “Sometimes even teachers and foreign tourists take things.”
Antoni Dudek, a leading Polish historian and a board member of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, a body charged with investigating wartime crimes, vented his outrage over the crimes.
“This is shocking,” he said. “This isn’t really vandalism because vandalism is something you do to a bus stop. This is barbarism.”
The museum’s operators say the size of the camp makes stopping crime difficult. Auschwitz-Birkenau covers over 200 hectares and contains a 150 buildings, and Cywinski said despite the best efforts of staff it is impossible to “monitor the entire camp” and eradicate all theft and vandalism.
Read more at The Telegraph.