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Arbeit macht Frei

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  • Arbeit macht Frei

    Auschwitz death camp sign stolen
    Thieves today stole the notorious metal sign hanging over the entrance of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz that reads "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes free), officials said.
    Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the Nazi death camp located in southern Poland during the second World War. Prisoners arriving at the camp used to enter via a relatively small iron gate topped by the German-language motto.
    More than 200 hectares 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, said. "We immediately notified the police."
    Mr Mensfelt said there were numerous cameras installed at the site and said local police were now 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," Mr Mensfelt said.
    "This is not only a theft but a horrible profanation 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.
    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.
    Auschwitz prisoners died of diseases, sub-zero temperatures, starvation and in medical experiments as well as being gassed.
    Earlier this year, Poland appealed for international donations to help preserve the site. Britain and Germany, among others, have offered financial help.
    In January the museum will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the camp's liberation by the Soviet Red Army. It hopes to open a new exhibition in the former prisoners' barracks chronicling the liberation.
    Say NO to violence against Women

    Originally posted by hedgehog
    My favourite moment was when the
    Originally posted by hedgehog
    red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

  • #2 - Last Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2009, 17:01

    Foreign link to Auschwitz theft suspected

    The mastermind behind last week’s theft of the metal sign above the entrance to the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz is a foreigner living outside Poland, prosecutors said today.
    Polish police recovered the sign, which reads "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free"), and arrested five men early yesterday over the theft, which had triggered widespread outrage, especially from Israel and Jewish groups.
    "The main person behind this crime was somebody living outside Poland who does not hold Polish citizenship," prosecutor Artur Wrona told a news conference after the five suspects took part in a re-enactment of the robbery at the camp.
    "Our actions in the coming days will be aimed at identifying this person, who is based in a European country," he said.
    Mr Wrona declined to give further details or to comment on Polish media reports that a Swedish collector had been involved in the crime.
    Officials have described the five suspects as common criminals with no known links to neo-Nazi groups.
    The theft had stirred fears of a possible political motive as the sign is a powerful symbol of the Holocaust committed by the Nazis against the Jews.
    "They did it for money. They knew where they were going and what for, but they were not really aware of the reaction this theft would cause," Mr Wrona said.
    Police displayed the metal sign, broken into three pieces and twisted out of shape, at a news conference. They said the thieves had left behind the final "i" of the word "frei".
    Mr Wrona said the thieves cut the five-metre long sign into three so that it would fit into their sports car. "They were no experts... but they were relatively cheap (to hire)," he added.
    The men face up to 10 years in jail for stealing and cutting up the sign, forged by a Polish prisoner at Auschwitz in 1940-41. The Auschwitz site, now a museum, is on the Unesco world heritage list.
    Mr Wrona accused the Auschwitz authorities of negligence. "Our investigation showed the thieves returned to the scene several times during the night. The first time they didn't have proper tools with them to unscrew it. The security was not working properly," he said.
    Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at the death camp of Auschwitz during Nazi Germany's second World War occupation of Poland. Arriving prisoners entered through a small iron gate topped by the arched sign.
    The motto became a symbol of the Nazis' efforts to give their victims a false sense of security before murdering them.Auschwitz prisoners died in the gas chambers, of disease, sub-zero temperatures, starvation and in medical experiments.
    Underlining government concern over possible damage to the country's image, Prime Minister Donald Tusk held talks today with the police officers who recovered the sign.
    Museum authorities have said they hope to have the sign restored and back in place in time for celebrations in January to mark the 65th anniversary of the camp's liberation by the Soviet Red Army.
    Say NO to violence against Women

    Originally posted by hedgehog
    My favourite moment was when the
    Originally posted by hedgehog
    red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head


    • #3
      The Irish Times - Thursday, December 31, 2009

      Theft of recovered Auschwitz sign may be linked to Swedish neo-Nazi terror plot


      IT SOUNDS like the plot of a Steig Larsson thriller: a band of eastern European criminals is contracted to steal an iconic piece of Nazi memorabilia, which is then sold to a mysterious collector to finance a neofascist bomb attack on the Swedish parliament.

      But yesterday it emerged that Swedish investigators are helping Polish detectives investigate the theft of the sign from Auschwitz, amid reports the crime was linked to a rightwing terror plot.
      The wrought-iron plaque reading Arbeit macht frei (work sets you free) which spanned the entrance at the Nazi death camp was wrenched from the gate on December 18th and recovered three days later, cut into three pieces, in a forest in northern Poland.
      The theft prompted Poland to declare a state of emergency, and provoked impassioned calls for the sign’s return from concentration camp survivors and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
      The five men being held in police custody in Krakow in connection with the theft have been described by Polish prosecutors as common criminals who had apparently acted for financial gain.
      But according to Danish daily Aftonbladet, the men were contracted by a neo-Nazi group which planned to sell it on to a third party, a foreign rightwing extremist or collector of Nazi memorabilia, with the aim of using the funds to finance a string of attacks in Stockholm.
      Boguslawa Marcinkowska, spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office in Krakow, said: “The evidence that we have so far points to there being links with Sweden.” Polish state television TVP1 quoted official sources saying Swedish neo-Nazis were behind the theft.
      Poland’s justice minister, Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, said: “The investigations have taken on a much broader dimension than we had initially thought.”
      The Swedish justice ministry has confirmed it is helping the Polish police with investigations after the state prosecutor’s office in Krakow lodged an official application asking for its help.
      Separately, the Swedish security service, Sapo, confirmed it was investigating an alleged neo-Nazi plot to blow up the Riksdagen, the parliament building in Stockholm, as well as the foreign ministry and the home of the president, Fredrik Reinfeldt. The aim of the plot, according to Sapo, was to create as much disruption as possible ahead of the 2010 parliamentary elections. It would not confirm or deny reports of a possible connection between the plot and the Auschwitz sign theft.
      Polish investigators, who said from the start of the inquiry they suspected the mastermind of the robbery operated outside Poland, would only say yesterday that he or she “came from a European country”.
      The five suspected thieves, aged between 25 and 39, all have criminal records but none is suspected of having a neo-Nazi background. They were reportedly set to receive 20,000 zlotys to share between them for the theft. The police told Polish press agency PAP they believe a foreign national, possibly the person who ordered the theft, had visited the former death camp in order to be able to plan the robbery in detail.
      The theft was carried out without attracting the attention of night watchmen or being caught on CCTV cameras. But in their haste to make off with the sign, the thieves dropped the letter i from the word frei. It was found in the snow nearby.
      The wider plot has the whiff of a thriller by the late Swedish writer Larsson, not least because he was an expert on right-wing extremism, a subject he wove into his books.
      Larsson sought to expose neo-Nazi activity in Sweden, forming in 1995 the group Expo-foundation, following eight murders for which neo-Nazis were held responsible. For several years the scene was considered small but particularly brutal. – ( Guardian service)
      Say NO to violence against Women

      Originally posted by hedgehog
      My favourite moment was when the
      Originally posted by hedgehog
      red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head


      • #4
        I visited Auschwitz myself only the week before the sign was
        stolen - and no, it wasn' t me who did it !

        A sobering experience, especially the displays of the
        confiscated belongings
        "Well, stone me! We've had cocaine, bribery and Arsenal scoring two goals at home. But just when you thought there were truly no surprises left in football, Vinnie Jones turns out to be an international player!" (Jimmy Greaves)!"