"I know what the Holocaust is. My parents are Auschwitz survivors. To say that I stole would be a mistake," said Moti Posloshani, who was convicted along with his wife Dominique of stealing artifacts from the Auschwitz death camp memorial.
Posloshani repented his acts, saying "I am ashamed and I ask for forgiveness, especially from Holocaust survivors whom I might have hurt."
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In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, Posloshani, who resigned on Monday from his position as a department head in the Herzliya Municipality, said he and his wife arrived at the Auschwitz death camp on a tourist bus, but separated from the group and toured the place on their own.
At some point, they entered a room that displayed the victims' artifacts. "One of the display boxes had silverware," Posloshani recalled.
"Suddenly, when we stopped next to the display box, we saw six or seven artifacts lying on the ground, covered in mud. I picked them up and tried to figure out what they were.
'I've made a big mistake,' Posloshani (Photo: Zvika Tishler)
"I saw a knife, a fork, and a kettle lid. They were partially burnt. At that moment I decided that I – the son of Holocaust survivors – will safeguard the artifacts, clean them and maybe hand them to Yad Vashem," he said, adding that "my wife agreed with me, and so we slipped the items into our bags."
Posloshani broke out in tears when asked why he didn't return the artifacts to the display box. "I don't see it as theft," he tried to explain, "I picked up some neglected items. I wanted them to be in a better place – to be protected, here in Israel.
"I've made a big mistake. I shouldn't have picked the items up in the first place," he noted.
The couple was arrested at the Krakow airport during the weekend, after border guard officers detected the stolen artifacts in their luggage.
After spending Friday night at the detention center by the airport, the two were indicted of stealing souvenirs of great cultural and historical value, an offence that is punishable by up to ten years in prison in Poland.
The couple was brought in front of a Polish judge, who convicted them of the offence, and gave them a two-year suspended prison sentence and a NIS 5,000 (about $1,450) fine each.
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