British private schoolboys fined for stealing from Auschwitz

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Two British teenagers have been fined for stealing artefacts from Auschwitz in Poland.

The two 17-year-olds reportedly stole items including a comb, buttons and spoons from the site of the notorious Nazi death camp – items that were confiscated from prisoners by Nazi guards.

Around 1.5 million people were killed at Auschwitz and, it remains as a museum in memorial of the devastation of the Holocaust.

Marcus Dell and Ben Thompson were fined around £170 each and spent a night in custody in Krakow.

From private Perse School in Cambridge, they had been on a school trip, and a school spokesperson said: “The boys, neither of whom is yet 18, picked up the fragments in the Canada section of the camp.

“They cooperated fully with the authorities and admitted taking the items. They are deeply sorry for the offence they have caused.”

Sgt Krzysztof Łach from the Krakow police department confirmed that the boys had been arrested and fined, and said: “The museum is very important for us and to people from all around the world and the Jewish people.”

Perse headmaster Ed Elliot said: “The opportunity to be able to visit Holocaust sites carries with it the duty to treat those sites with the utmost respect and sensitivity.”

Approximately 50,000 served prison sentences as “convicted homosexuals”, and around 5,000 to 15,000 gay men were imprisoned in concentration camps. Many gay men were imprisoned by the allied authorities after the liberation of the concentration camps as homosexuality remained illegal.

Pope Francis recently decried the “great powers” of the Second World War for not doing more to prevent the Holocaust, by bombing the railways into Auschwitz.

In January, drone footage from Auschwitz was released, showing the scale of the death camp.