The thieves, aged 30 and 26, now face five-years in jail after being caught thieving ninety-one pairs of shoes with a retail value of PLN 17,000.
The project will see 8,000 shoes – most of which belonged to children – undergo a state-of-the-art conservation process aimed at slowing down their decay.
During WWII, the site of the dig in what is now Warsaw’s Muranów district was the headquarters of the Jewish Combat Organisation, which was instrumental in organising and launching the ghetto uprising.
Staff at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum were carrying out preservation work on the thousands of relics in its collection when they came across the extraordinary discovery.
When shoe company WoshWosh heard about the plight of Józef Kania from Toruń who has been fixing and making shoes since 1944, internet users sprang into action, sharing his story thousands of times and driving customers to support his business.
Teaching himself by watching instruction videos on the internet in his kitchen after work, Kolowca soon found he had mastered the art of leather-making when his first bag was snapped up just 30 minutes after posting it online.
The homeless man had been chatting with the officers from the Police Prevention Unit when he mentioned that he had been job-hunting and that an employer had agreed to give him a job on a building site if he had the right shoes.
Polish footwear firm Wojas SA has signed a contract to produce combat boots for the NATO Support and Procurement Agency.
The discovery described by museum staff as "exceptional" was made during conservation work on shoes that make up part of the permanent exhibition at the Auschwitz museum.
Produced from the fruits’ skin, apple leather has a texture that resembles traditional leather and is breathable.
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