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Jewish Leader Describes Night From Hell in Auschwitz — That Happened This Week, Not During World War II

"Calls for help went unanswered as temperatures continued to drop."

An undated image shows the main gate of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland. Writing over the gate reads: "Arbeit macht frei" (Work Sets You Free). (AP Photo/File)

The head of Rome’s Jewish community experienced a nightmare ordeal Tuesday night when he found himself trapped in Auschwitz after the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi camp’s liberation, then was detained for hours by police after he and a television crew tried to escape.

Italian Jewish leader Riccardo Pacifici and a crew were filming an anniversary show at Auschwitz when they discovered they actually had been locked inside the notorious death camp.

An undated image shows the main gate of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland. Writing over the gate reads: “Arbeit macht frei” (Work Sets You Free). (AP Photo/File) An undated image shows the main gate of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland with its sign over the gate “Arbeit macht frei,” or "Work sets you free." (AP)

The Jerusalem Post reported that despite the permit Pacifici and the crew had to film there, around 11:00 p.m. they discovered the gates had been closed and that security guards had gone home for the night:

Calls for help went unanswered as temperatures continued to drop in the freezing complex near Krakow, Poland where 1.5 million people were murdered during the Holocaust. Crew members eventually broke a window to get out, setting off an alarm in the process.

Police arrived on the scene and detained Pacifici and his crew and questioned them. According to Britain’s Independent, they were interrogated at Auschwitz until 2:30 a.m., then taken to a police station where they faced another three hours of questions.

Pacifici tweeted: "We have been held by Polish police for an hour inside Auschwitz after filming Matrix [the name of the program]. A disgrace."

Finally, at 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, they were released following the intervention of Italian diplomats.

In a message to Italian President Pietro Grasso, Pacifici tweeted: "Thank you to president @PietroGrasso for his kind call of solidarity after my harsh experience at Auschwitz."

The Independent reported that Pacifici’s grandparents died during the Holocaust in Auschwitz.

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