Saturday, December 19, 2009

Auschwitz death camp sign stolen

The infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland has been stolen.

Above is a photo of the gate i took when i visited a bit more than a year ago while i was in Krakow for my FYA Exhibition as part of Photomonth. Auschwitz is in Poland, about an hour or so from where i was staying. It was the second time i had visited a concentration camp. The first just outside of Berlin called Sachsenhausen. It was as heavy as it gets, the location, the buildings still standing, the ruins, and the documentation, as well as original artifacts on display were not only mind boggling, but really earth shattering revelations, it's not like you didn't know, but seeing these things first hand is REALLY a life changing experience.

from the BBC:
The wrought iron sign, whose words mean "Work Sets You Free", was unscrewed and pulled down from its position above the gate in the early hours of Friday. Polish authorities denounced the theft, while Israel's Holocaust museum branded it an "act of war". More than a million people - 90% of them Jews - were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz during World War II. Investigators say at least two people would have been needed to steal the five-metre-long (16ft), 40kg (90lb) sign. The theft occurred between 0330 and 0500 local time on Friday, police spokeswoman Katarzyna Padlo told AP news agency.

Jarek Mensfelt, from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, told the BBC: "It is more than just stealing something. It is a desecration."Somebody who did this must have been a person who had a knowledge of our security system because all the area is closed at night and patrolled and there is a system of cameras," he added. "This was not an incident - this was a deliberate and organised action." Avner Shalev, director of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, said the theft "constitutes a true declaration of war". He added: "We don't know the identity of the perpetrators but I assume they are neo-Nazis." Polish ex-President Lech Walesa described the theft as "unthinkable", while Poland's chief rabbi said he could not imagine who would do such a thing. "If they are pranksters, they'd have to be sick," said Michael Schudrich. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom labelled the theft "abominable". "This act demonstrates once again hatred and violence against Jews," he is quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

The BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw says police are interviewing security guards and viewing closed circuit television footage.
It is not clear why it was stolen but museum officials say the widely recognised sign would be difficult to sell.
It is the first time the sign, made by Polish prisoners, has been stolen since it was erected in 1940.

Reward offer

Occasionally removed by officials for conservation work, it has been replaced by a replica. A 5,000-zloty ($1,700; £1,050) reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of the thieves, reports AP.

The cynical slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" was also used at the entrances to other Nazi camps, including Dachau and Sachsenhausen, although the one at Auschwitz is perhaps the best known. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners passed under the sign into the camp during the Holocaust, but the majority were murdered or worked to death.

The theft comes just days after the German government pledged 60m euros ($86m) to an endowment fund to help preserve the camp.Auschwitz, which receives more than a million visitors a year, has been run as a state museum since 1947.
some more interesting articles from the BBC about Auschwitz below:

Auschwitz's sign of death and defiance (history)
Cash crisis threat to Auschwitz (Narrated slide show+more)

1 comment:

  1. One more item to the criticizers of "Israel" Eichmann was cought in Argentinia but Mengele was in Paraguay well protected by other Nazis who travelled there with Swiss travel papers. The Mossad [tzionim] attempted to kidnap him and some teams were killed in the attempt. Just walk in the average Yeshiva and ask about Eichmann, Treblinka you will a blank stare. Matter of fact it is subject non-grata.
    Auschwitz Concentration Camp