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Survivors’ Granddaughter Defends Snatching Auschwitz Relics: ‘Something I Had To Do’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum located on the site of the former Nazi camp said it will file a complaint with the Polish prosecutor against an Israeli woman who removed relics from site.

Rotem Bides, 27, an art student at the Beit Berl College, visited the Auschwitz site six times and removed relics including shards of glass, small bowls, a metal screw, soil and a sign warning visitors not to take anything from the former Nazi camp, Ynet reported. She also told Ynet she removed a teaspoon from the site but lost it.

Bides, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, including a grandfather she says survived Auschwitz, used the samples as part of her final project for the Beit Berl College’s Faculty of Art. She collected them while an exchange student in Krakow, she told Ynet.

Since the theft of the objects became public, Beit Berl College removed Bides’ exhibition and has summoned her for a disciplinary hearing.

Bides told Ynet that she is aware that she broke the law, but that she chose to act that way in a place where all basic rules had been violated. She said she also committed the theft as a way to answer to herself the question of what will remain of the survivors’ memories when they are no longer alive.

“I felt it was something I had to do,” she told Ynet’s parent publication Yediot Acharonot.

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