Thieves have stolen eight shoes belonging to Holocaust victims from a museum in Poland, the latest in a series of thefts targeting memorials to those killed in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
The shoes were stolen from a permanent exhibition at the Majdanek State Museum in Lublin, spokeswoman Agnieszka Kowalczyk-Nowak told CNN on Wednesday.
The museum displays 280,000 shoes belonging to Holocaust victims in a former barracks building on the grounds of the former concentration camp.
The theft was uncovered when a security guard noticed Thursday that one of the cabinets used to display the shoes had been broken into, Kowalczyk-Nowak said. This triggered a count that revealed that eight shoes had been stolen.
Holocaust artifacts bear witness
The theft was reported to police, and a criminal investigation is ongoing, she said.
It comes less than a month after an iron gate with the notorious Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which translates to “work sets you free,” was stolen from the former Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum condemned that theft, saying: “While we do not know who is behind the theft of the sign, the theft of such a symbolic object is an offensive attack on the memory of the Holocaust.”
The famous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland also was stolen in 2009. It was discovered shortly afterward cut into three pieces.
The concentration camp in Lublin, popularly known as Majdanek, housed Jews from Poland and across occupied Europe, as well as Soviet prisoners of war and political prisoners from Poland.
According to the museum website, of an estimated 150,000 inmates who entered Majdanek, 80,000 people, including 60,000 Jews, were killed.
“In order to remove the traces of the crimes, the corpses of those who died and the murdered were burnt on pyres or in the crematorium,” it states.