19 May 2011
Conservationists have welded together the ‘Arbeit macht frei’ [‘Work will set you free’] sign stolen from the gate of the former Nazi Auschwitz death camp in December 2009 and later recovered cut in pieces. The sign, which formed an arch above the gate to the infamous Nazi death camp in occupied Poland was "a symbolic attack" on the memory of the Holocaust, Piotr Cywinski, head of the Auschwitz museum, said in a statement. "It is an object of a great historic value, but also a very famous slogan of totalitarian propaganda and a warning against the madness of nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism," he added.
The repaired sign will now become part of an exhibition at the Auschwitz museum. A replica has been put in its place atop the gate at the Auschwitz camp's main entrance. The metal sign spanning about five meters was stolen on 18 December 2009 and found three days later, cut up into three pieces. The theft provoked angry reactions by Holocaust survivors and the wider public. The five Polish thieves of the sign were immediately arrested and later sentenced to between 18 months and 30 months in prison.
The mastermind of the theft, 34-year-old Swedish neo-Nazi Anders Högström, was extradited from Sweden to Poland where he was sentenced to 32 months in prison. He has since been returned to Sweden to serve his sentence there.
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