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Italian Jewish Leader Arrested for Trying to Escape from Auschwitz

Ricardo Pacifici

On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Riccardo Pacifici, a leader of Rome’s Jewish community, was trapped inside Auschwitz and arrested for trying to escape through a window, as reported by Haaretz. Pacifici was recording a television show about the ceremony to commemorate the liberation of the death camp and, in the course of the interview, he didn’t realized that the gates had been closed and locked by guards.

Pacifici, whose grandparents perished in Auschwitz, was faced with freezing conditions along with Italian journalist David Parenzo, Fabio Perugia, Jewish community spokesman and other members of the television crew. Their cries for assistance were not heard, so they escaped through an open window, setting off an alarm.

Polish police officers arrested them immediately, and they were interrogated until 2:30 am. “They arrested us and treated us roughly as though we were criminals, ” Mr. Perugia told Haaretz. More police officers were called up until there were a dozen confining the small  group.  After hours of more questioning, which was relieved only by an interpreter summoned by the Italian foreign ministry, the group was released. While interrogated, Mr. Pacifici Tweeted in Italian, “We are being held by the Polish police inside Auschwitz … a disgrace.” Upon his release, he called the incident “madness” and a “folly” and said, “They interrogated us until 6 in the morning, to Jews who had been locked inside the Auschwitz camp where I lost some of my family, ” he told La Stampa, an Italian newspaper. “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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