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Arbeit macht Frei.....stolen.


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Auschwitz sign stolen: 'Arbeit Macht Frei' slogan sat over German Nazi death camp entrance in Poland

Thieves in Poland stole a famous Nazi sign from the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp that reads "Work Will Set You Free," authorities said Friday.

The sign at the death camp's entrance became a symbol of the horrors of the Holocaust, implying that hard work was the way imprisoned Jews could get out of the camp. More than a million people died at Auschwitz, most of whom were condemned to gas chambers.

The theft - which police said may have been ordered by a private collector or a group of individuals - sparked widespread outrage.

"A worldwide symbol of the cynicism of Hitler's executioners and the martyrdom of their victims has been stolen. This act deserves the strongest possible condemnation," said Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

An Israeli deputy prime minister called the theft "an abominable act" and a holocaust memorial group said it was "a declaration of war."

The brazen thieves took the huge 16-foot metal sign before dawn on Friday, authorities said. Police said the sign was unscrewed on one side and yanked from the other. Authorities suspect several people were involved because of the size and height of the sign.

A police dog team was working to track the thieves while detectives combed through video surveillance footage from the site.

"All leads are being considered, but we are focusing on a theft ordered by a private collector or a group of individuals," police spokeswoman Malgorzata Jurecka said Friday.

Police offered a $1,700 reward for information leading to the sign's recovery.

The theft came one day after the German government donated $88 million to preserve the site.



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Infamous sign at Auschwitz death camp stolen
Gabriela Baczynska, REUTERS: Friday, December 18, 2009 12:38 PM

A bird flies above a gate of the Auschwitz Museum about two weeks before the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in Oswiecim in this file photo dated in January 9, 2005. The sign "arbeit macht frei" (work will set you free) was stolen early December 18, 2009 according to a duty police officer in Oswiecim.
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Katarina Stoltz, REUTERS/Katarina Stoltz
'Nazi guard' Demjanjuk to face Holocaust survivors
Nazi death-camp relic unearthed
WARSAW - The notorious metal sign hanging at the entrance of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz that reads "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free") was stolen on Friday, officials said.

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance centre in Jerusalem, called the theft "an attack on the memory of the Holocaust" and the leaders of Poland and Israel condemned the incident during talks on the sidelines of a global climate summit in Copenhagen.

Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the Nazi death camp located in southern Poland during World War Two. Prisoners arriving at the camp used to enter via a relatively small iron gate topped by the German-language motto.

More than 200 hectares (500 acres) of the former death camp became a museum after the war ended.

"Early this morning the guards patrolling the site noticed the sign was not in its place," Jaroslaw Mensfelt, the museum's spokesman, told Reuters. "We immediately notified the police."

Mensfelt said numerous cameras were installed at the site and local police were analysing the film. He said no further details regarding the theft were available.

"We have already installed a replica sign over the gate. It has been used in the past when the original was being repaired. I hope the original will quickly be retrieved and the thieves caught," Mensfelt said.

"This is not only a theft but a horrible desecration in a place where more than a million people were murdered, in the biggest such site in this part of the world. This really is a disgraceful act."

The wording of the sign became a symbol of the Nazis' efforts to deceive their victims into a false sense of security before murdering them.

Some Jews and other groups arriving at the camp would have thought they were coming to do forced labour, not to be killed as part of a deliberate systematic policy of genocide.

"I was shocked to learn this morning of the theft of the sign, which has come to symbolise the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust," a statement by Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance centre in Jerusalem, said.

"The theft of such a symbolic object is an attack on the memory of the Holocaust and an escalation from those elements that would like to return us to darker days."

In Copenhagen, Israeli President Shimon Peres told Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk: "The state of Israel and the Jewish people in their entirety ask that you take the necessary steps to catch the criminals and return the sign to its place."

"The sign is of profound historical significance both for the Jewish people and the entire world and is a memorial for the more than 1 million Jews who were exterminated at this camp."

Auschwitz prisoners died of diseases, sub-zero temperatures, starvation and in medical experiments as well as being gassed.

Tusk vowed to do everything required to catch the thieves.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit the museum every year, but ticket sales are not enough to maintain the open-air site with its 155 buildings — including the gas chambers — 300 ruined facilities and hundreds of thousands of personal items.

Earlier this year, Poland appealed for international donations to help preserve the site. Britain and Germany, among others, have offered financial help.

In January, Poland marks the 65th anniversary of the camp's liberation by the Red Army. It plans to open a new exhibition in the former prisoners' barracks chronicling the liberation.

© Copyright (c) Reuters

Read it on Global News: Infamous sign at Auschwitz death camp stolen


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The police are probably already knocking down doors to local hate groups seeing how there were memorials scheduled.

Michael OLeary

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Polish police recover Auschwitz gate sign, damaged

(AP) – 6 hours ago

WARSAW, Poland — Polish police say five men arrested for the theft of the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign that was bolted atop the gate at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp have criminal pasts.

Investigators announced some details of the recovery of the sign at a news conference Monday, but said it was too soon to say what the motive behind theft may have been. The sign was found cut into three pieces near the home of one of the five men.

The 16-foot (5-meter) sign was stolen before dawn on Friday from the Auschwitz memorial museum site in the southern Polish town of Oswiecim.

Two of the suspects were tracked down in the northern city of Gdynia, the other three near Wloclawek.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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The offenders should be made to perform "forced labour" in Auschwitz to atone for their crime.

old medic

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Other coverage of the sign recovery here:


Police in Krakow, southern Poland, told reporters on Monday it was too early to tell what the motive behind the theft of the Auschwitz sign really was. However, the five suspects arrested when the sign was recovered are not members of a neo-Nazi group. The men do have criminal records for either violence or theft.

"We can say that none of the five are members of a neo-Nazi group," Andrzej Rokita, district police chief in the city of Krakow, told a news conference. "Their intent was undoubtedly robbery related. We will be able to decide later whether the crime was ordered or whether they acted on their own initiative."         

The five men, aged 20 to 39, are believed to have stolen the infamous "Arbeit macht frei" sign, which hung over the entrance to the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, at dawn on Friday. Police recovered the sign, cut into three pieces, near the home of one of the suspects. ...........

continues at link.

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Brit hired Swedish Nazis for Auschwitz raid: report
Published: 4 Jan 10 09:29 CET

A Swedish right-wing extremist group agreed to help a wealthy UK-based collector and Nazi sympathizer acquire the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from the Auschwitz concentration camp in exchange for "huge money", according to a British newspaper.

“The collector wanted it as a trophy - and used his neo-Nazi contacts to put word out he was prepared to pay huge money for it,” a source based in Sweden told the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

Last week, Polish justice officials sought assistance in the investigation from their Swedish counterparts in order to follow up on suspicions that the heist was masterminded by someone outside of Poland.

Five men are currently being held in Poland in connection with the December 18th theft of the iconic, five metre long sign, which translates from German to “Work sets you free”.

According to the Mirror, the suspects in Poland were merely “bit-part players” in a larger international plot which would have also benefited pro-Nazi groups in Sweden.

“Arrangements had been made to hide the sign in a cellar in Stockholm, waiting for the British man to collect. The plan was to use the British guy's money to fund neo-Nazi hate attacks in Sweden,” the source told the newspaper.

A rumoured Swedish connection surfaced around the time the sign was recovered three days after its removal from the front gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp, with Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reporting that an extremist group was plotting a politically-motivated attack against the Swedish parliament, the foreign ministry, and the prime minister's residence.

While Swedish intelligence agency Säpo confirmed it was investigating a far-right attack, the agency refused to say whether there was a connection between the Swedish plot and the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign.

When it was recovered, the sign had been cut into three pieces, with the letter "i" from "Frei" abandoned at the camp, a Polish state-run museum and memorial since 1947.

The sign has long symbolized the horror of the camp, created by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940 and run until Soviet troops liberated it in 1945.

The Local/AFP