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Polish Jews 'outraged' over Holocaust items smuggled to Israel
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Photo: W. Kryński / POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.



WARSAW (AFP).- Jewish organisations in Poland on Tuesday voiced outrage after religious artefacts found in a Holocaust-era Warsaw ghetto bunker were reportedly smuggled to Israel.

Israel Hayom newspaper said Monday that two Israeli groups shipped out the items discovered by construction workers on a building site.

"We are shocked and outraged by the fact that artefacts from the Holocaust period have been illegally circulated," the Warsaw-based Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, the Warsaw Ghetto Museum and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews said in a joint statement.

"We are therefore appealing to all persons who have any knowledge of such artefacts to pass on such information to the institutions appointed for that purpose," they added, signalling that if recovered, the pieces would be displayed in museums.

Under Polish law, smuggling pre-1945 objects out of Poland is a crime carrying a maximum five year prison term.

Israel Hayom reported that workers discovered prayer boxes in a "bunker dug in preparation for the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising".

They included 10 "100-year-old phylacteries", or small leather boxes containing Hebrew texts worn by Jewish men at morning prayer, the daily said.

It reported that the Israeli groups obtained the artefacts after secretly contacting the construction workers.

A year after the Nazis occupied Poland in September 1939, Germany created the Warsaw ghetto, a special district for Jews in the Polish capital.

Some 480,000 people were crammed into the area and many perished from starvation and disease before 300,000 were sent to the gas chambers of the Treblinka death camp, 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the east.

The Germans razed the ghetto after the failed 1943 uprising.

Over six million Poles, including three million with Jewish roots, were killed by Nazi Germany.


© Agence France-Presse










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