Controversy has erupted after an Israeli art student reportedly claimed to have stolen items from the Auschwitz death camp for an exhibit, but her school said Thursday the claim was false.
The school said the student, whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, had in fact taken items from outside the site in Poland, not the camp itself, which is now a memorial and museum.
“We found out that she did not steal anything from Auschwitz,” an official with Beit Berl College near Tel Aviv told AFP.
Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, quoting 27-year-old student Rotem Bides, reported that she took items including shards of glass, bowls and a sign warning visitors not to steal from the camp.
They were to be included in her final graduating exhibit.
“I felt it was something I had to do,” the paper quoted her as saying.
“Millions of people were murdered based on the moral laws of a certain country, under a certain regime. And if these are the laws, I can go there and act according to my own laws,” she said.
“The statement I’m making here is that laws are determined by humans, and that morality is something that changes from time to time and from culture to culture.”
One of her grandfathers survived Auschwitz, the paper said.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum condemned the student’s supposed actions and reportedly asked authorities to look into it.
Her school said it summoned Bides for a disciplinary hearing.
“Subsequent to this hearing, the college has determined no act of theft took place,” a statement from the college said.
“The student wrote a letter explaining that the objects displayed in her project were collected outside the Auschwitz camp, and not on the grounds, and apologising for any injury caused by the misunderstanding.”
Her project will be displayed as part of graduating students’ exhibitions on July 26 along with her “letter of clarification,” it said.
Nazi Germany built the Auschwitz death camp after occupying Poland during World War II.
The Holocaust site has become a symbol of Nazi Germany’s genocide of six million European Jews, one million of whom were killed at the camp between 1940 to 1945.
More than 100,000 non-Jews, including gypsies and gays, also died at the camp, according to the museum. An estimated 232,000 of the victims were children.
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