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Rome’s Jewish Leader Locked in Auschwitz

Riccardo Pacifici, the president of Rome’s Jewish community, had an eerie and awful experience when visiting Auschwitz with a TV crew to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz: he found himself locked inside the camp.

Pacifici, Jewish community spokesman Fabio Perugia, Matrix TV show host David Parenzo, and two technicians found themselves outside, where the temperature was minus nine degrees Celsius. When no one answered their calls for help, they went to the box office and attempted to climb out the window, which set off the alarm, alerting the museum guard and the police.

All five people were arrested and interrogated in Auschwitz until 2:30 a.m., then interrogated at the police station.

Perugia told Haaretz, “They arrested us and treated us roughly as though we were criminals. More and more police were summoned until there were some 12 officers who held us in the camp.” Pacifici tweeted, “We are being held by the Polish police inside Auschwitz…. A disgrace.”

After the Italian Foreign Ministry and the Italian Embassy in Warsaw intervened, the group was released at 6 a.m.

Pacifici’s grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz. When he got to the airport for the flight back to Rome, he told La Stampa, “They interrogated us until six in the morning — two Jews who had been locked inside the Auschwitz camp, where I lost some of my family. My grandparents died here. It’s a shock. Our only crime was that we tried to get out through the window.”

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