An Israeli art student whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors admitted to the theft of relics at the Auschwitz concentration camp for a school project, claiming she had the right to do so according to her own laws.
During a series of six visits to Auschwitz while on a gap year in Krakow, Poland, 27-year-old Rotem Bides periodically swiped items including pieces of glass, spoons, bowls and even a sign warning visitors not to take anything, she told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in an article published Tuesday.
“I felt it was something I had to do,” she said. “Millions of people were murdered based on the moral laws of a certain country, under a certain regime. And if these are the laws, I can go there and act according to my own laws. The statement I’m making here is that laws are determined by humans, and that morality is something that changes from time to time and from culture to culture.”
Her academic advisor, Michal Ne’eman, backed her up, saying he didn’t see anything wrong with his student’s breach of protocol.
“Let’s say she didn’t steal, but took a piece of evidence through which she can be part of it,” he told Yedioth Ahronoth. “It’s neither devious nor manipulative.”
The items were on display in a student exhibition at Beit Berl College’s Faculty of Art in Jerusalem until the school reportedly took the show down. Bides was also called in for a disciplinary hearing.
Understandably, officials with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum want back the items Bides took.
″‘Art’ does not justify theft,” they said in a tweet. The officials also plan to file a complaint against Bides, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.