Jewish leader Riccardo Pacifici trapped in Auschwitz after filming a 70th anniversary show then arrested when he tried to escape with crew

The leader of Rome’s Jewish community set off a security alarm when he and his crew escaped through a window

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The Independent Online

The leader of Rome’s Jewish community was arrested by police on Tuesday night along with a TV crew who were found trying to escape Auschwitz after they had been locked in following filming for an anniversary show.

Riccardo Pacifici, whose grandparents had died in the Nazi death camp, realised that he and the crew were trapped at around 11pm on International Holocaust Remembrance Day when he found the gates were closed after they had finished filming a live episode of a TV show to mark the 70 anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation. Haaretz reports that Mr Pacifici was trapped with the television host and Jewish community spokesman Fabio Perugia, along with two technicians, and spent an our outside in freezing temperatures - minus nine degrees – trying to alert someone for help.

The group then attempted to leave through a box office window, which triggered alarms and caused the museum guard to arrive with several Polish police officers.

They were interrogated at Auschwitz until 2:30 am before they were taken to a police station where they were questioned for another three hours, eventually being released at around 6 am following the help of an interpreter, the Italian Foreign Ministry and the Italian Embassy in Warsaw.


Mr Perugia told Haaretz that they had been treated “roughly” as though they were criminals, while Mr Pacifici tweeted about the situation, calling it a “disgrace” and criticising the way they had been handled by the local police.

He later tweeted a message of gratitude to the Italian president for apparently telephoning him after the ordeal.