Administrators of the Auschwitz Museum are left scratching their heads in dismay as the notorious Nazi death camp is riddled with theft and vandalism from visitors who wanted “souvenirs” from the place.
Visitors have reportedly etched messages into the bunks used by Holocaust prisoners on display at the Auschwitz Museum in their bid to leave something in the place. Additionally, there has been rising cases of people removing objects as “souvenirs” from the camp where more than one million people died throughout the Second World War.
According to the report ran by The Telegraph, Auschwitz Museum organizers noted several cases where visitors carved their names with the tag was here on the walls and furniture exhibited at the former Nazi camp. There even is a case wherein the offender scratched the message I smoked here. There are also incidents wherein visiting individuals took bits of barb wires and spikes from the railway line which carried prisoners to the infamous Nazi death camp in German-controlled Poland during WWII.
According to the director of Auschwitz Museum Piotr Cywinski, the culprits aren’t always young people who visited the death camp. Teachers and foreign visitors are guilty of the thefts and vandalism as well.
A celebrated Polish historian and one of the board members of Poland’s Institute of national Remembrance Antoni Dudek is outraged with the crimes committed in Auschwitz Museum. He even coined the term barbarism to describe the incidents as according him, vandalism is something one does on petty public places like a bus stop.
Operators of Auschwitz Museum said in their part that the institution’s size makes stopping the crimes difficult. Auschwitz-Birkenau sits on an area covering more than 200 hectares and is comprise of about 150 buildings. Mr. Cywinski stated that the museum’s staff are doing their best to stop the crimes but it is just impossible to monitor the whole camp.
Poland’s culture ministry, the organization responsible for Auschwitz Museum, on the other hand, strongly oppose the installation of CCTV cameras in the former death camp’s buildings. They argued that the prison house’s authenticity would be lost in this case. Mr. Cywinski for his part believes that education is the best and long-term solution to the problems at hand. However, others have called on harsher legal retributions for those caught stealing from or vandalizing Auschwitz Museum.
A former prisoner in Auschwitz, Bogdan Bartnikowski, has his own words of wisdom to those who steal or etch their names proudly into the bunks where he and other Holocaust prisoners used to lay for the night.
“If they had been there and feared that they would be leaving through the chimney the next day, they wouldn’t be so eager to scratch their names on the bunks,” he said.