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Memorial day at Auschwitz – Birkenau

Auschwitz & Birkenhau

Photo courtesy of Peter Harpley

January 27th is International Day of Holocaust Remembrance, established by the United Nations to coincide with the liberation in 1945 by Soviet troops of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in southern (German occupied) Poland.

Over one million died in Auschwitz, mostly Jews, at the hands of the Nazis and six million perished in the Holocaust.

President Bronislaw Komorowski and German president, Christian Wulff will be taking part in ceremonies today at the most notorious of Nazi death camps.

“Former prisoners will be the most important guests at the ceremony this year, as we fear that with their death we will lose the most important of witnesses,” the Auschwitz Museum’s Pawel Sawicki told Polish Radio.

The main ceremony will take place at around 15:30 CET at the Monument to the Victims at the Auschwitz Museum, the most visited museum in Poland. Last year, close to one and a half million people visited the site from all over the world.

The museum is launching the Intervene Now campaign to raise 120 million euro for the up keeping the historical site.

“The barracks, barbed wire, the ruins of the crematoria and gas chambers are the best guardians of memory,” says Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an advisor to PM Donald Tusk and Auschwitz survivor.

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Events, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Auschwitz sign theft – Charges at last

KRAKOW TOURS – It’s been nearly a year since the theft of the infamous “Arbiet Macht Frei” sign that had once greeted prisoners destined for the death camps at Auschwitz.

Though the sign was recoveredjust three days later, it wasn’t until yesterday that the final steps were taken so that those responsible could be brought to justice.

In March, three of the five Polish suspects involved in the theft of the sign were handed prison sentences ranging from 18 to 30 months. However, the alleged mastermind of the theft, Swede Anders Hoegstroem, a former neo-Nazi, as well as two Polish suspects, were only charged by Polish prosecutors on Thursday. Hoegstroem, who had been extradited to Poland in April, is now facing between 28 and 32 months for incitement to commit theft of the historic sign. One of the Poles, identified as Marcin A., was indicted with the same charge, while the final suspect, Andrzej S., has been charged with participating in the actual theft, though he pleaded not guilty.

Hoegstroem is expected to agree to a plea bargain to serve out his sentence in Sweden.

Photo courtesy Peter Harpley

November 26, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Auschwitz Theft – Canadians let off

KRAKOW TOURS – An appeal by the Auschwitz museum against the dropping of charges against two Canadian teachers, who were caught red-handed in June while trying to steal “mementoes” from German Nazi death camp, will be heard this week.

Even though the two men were caught red-handed, the Prosecutor’s Office in Oswiecim dropped the case, claiming that it was petty theft, which did not affect the national heritage of Poland.

“The museum’s guards found two metal railway pins wrapped in paper in the men’s rucksacks. The pins are a part of the historic train track, where camp prisoners were selected and some directed to gas chambers,” says Piotr Cywinski, head of the Auschwitz-Birkenau National Museum.

“I was shocked when I read [the case had been dismissed]. Does that mean that each of over one million visitors who annually come to Auschwitz can take a souvenir from the camp with them? A brick from a crematorium or a piece of a barbed wire? The Prosecutor’s Office and police are permitting the looting of the camp,” complains Cywinski.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the entire 200-ha area is regarded as a mass grave site.

“If police and the Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the Auschwitz gate sign thieves, why don’t they charge these Canadian teachers, who admitted they intended to commit a theft?” asks Cywinski.

Prosecutors say the two crimes are not comparable, however. “There’s a difference between masterminding the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign theft and picking up two pieces of metal from the ground,” Mariusz Slomka from the Prosecutor’s Office in Oswiecim told the Dziennik Polski.

On 19 August, the Court in Oswiecim will consider an appeal against the discontinuation of the case, filed by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

Visit Auschwitz with KRAKOWTOURS.CO.UK the only UK tour company operating in Krakow

August 17, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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