Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Metal Detectorist Involved in Auschwitz Documents Theft

We recall a Cheltenham artefact hunter who has very close relations with a group of Polish metal detectorists. For the past week or so there has been some talk in the Polish press and on the forums about another case of such international contact within the metal detecting community criminal activity. It concerns a Silesian artefact hunter, Mieczysław Bojko (quite well known in metal det circles) who, together with two German metal detectorists from the Black Forest region reportedly went to a place the German indicated and with the use of a mechanical excavator dug out three boxes of documents which the Germans immediately took out of the country. The documents reportedly were personal records of members of the staff of the Auschwitz concentration camp. It seems they were being transported out of occupied Poland in 1945 when the train got stuck at a station near Przełęcz Kowarska. Mr Bojko took 5000 euros for his help. Unauthorised removal of such documents from Poland is illegal, and Auschwitz Museum has filed a criminal complaint in this matter. There is speculation about what the Germans could have wanted the documents for, certainly war crimes have no statute of limitations, but since most of the people mentioned in the service documents are dead, I wonder whether their motivation is not the intention to blackmail members of the families of these men, not to reveal the late Granddad Helmut's war past. There are though some who caution that the whole affair may be a publicity stunt for the Polish searcher who is an author of several books on metal detecting. Time will tell.

Siobhan Dowling, 'Auschwitz documents surface, then vanish', Global Post 17th Jan 2012.

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