Auschwitz Sign Recovered; Thieves Not Thought To Be Neo-Nazis

By JTA

Published December 21, 2009.
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The “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign stolen from the memorial at the Auschwitz death camp was recovered.

The metal sign from the front gate of the death camp, which means “work makes you free,” was recovered early Monday morning, about 72 hours after it was stolen, according to reports.

The 16-foor-long sign, which was forged by prisoners at the camp, was found across the country in northern Poland, and was cut into three pieces, according to reports. Five men, from age 20 to 39, were arrested in the theft. The men are not thought to be neo-Nazis, Krakow Police Chief Andrzej Rokita told reporters during a news conference Monday.

Police and anonymous donors had offered a reward of nearly $40,000 for information leading to the sign’s return.

The theft occurred one day after Germany announced that it would contribute $87 million to the new Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which earlier this year launched a campaign to raise $172 million to preserve the remains of the death camp as a memorial and museum.

There are about 450 buildings and remains of buildings at the site, including the ruins of gas chambers, as well as 80,000 pairs of shoes of victims and 3,800 suitcases, according to a report by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Some 1.1 million people, including about 1 million Jews, were murdered at Auschwitz.






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