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Auschwitz “souvenir” lands Italian tourist in police custody

A 66-year-old Italian was held at Poland’s Krakow airport after being found with barbed wire from the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz, where his father had reportedly died, police said Sunday.

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A 66-year-old Italian was held at Poland’s Krakow airport after being found with barbed wire from the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz, where his father had reportedly died, police said Sunday.

“The man was arrested on Saturday. He told the police that he wanted a souvenir from Auschwitz because his father died in the camp,” Krakow police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka said.

The man had 30 centimetres of barbed wire. Police said was later freed “after he showed the police the place from where he picked up the piece of barbed wire. It was not from a protected site,” Ciarka said.

“There was therefore no offence committed,” he added.

A Frenchman was arrested in Krakow last year for also trying to carry away some barbed wire from Auschwitz.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the most notorious, and enduring, symbol of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany’s wartime campaign of genocide against Europe’s Jews.

A year after invading Poland in 1939, the Nazis opened what was to become a vast complex on the edge of the southern town of Oswiecim — Auschwitz in German. They later expanded it to the nearby village of Brzezinka, or Birkenau.

Of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, one million were murdered at the site, mostly in its gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

Soviet troops arrived at the camp on January 27, 1945, and the date is now marked as an international Holocaust memorial day.

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