It was a cruelly ironic sign, “Arbiet Macht Frei,” that greeted prisoners destined for the death camps at Auschwitz. But now, police say it’s been stolen.
The infamous sign that has hung over the gates to the original camp was dismantled and removed sometime overnight last night. Officials discovered the theft this morning and police are on the hunt for culprits.
The sign, which in English translates to “Work Makes (you) Free”, was made in the 1940s by prisoners at the camp. It has remained in place until yesterday and is seen as an important symbol of the camps, at which more than a million people were murdered by the Nazi regime.
UPDATE: The Małopolska police spokesperson has told the Krakow Post that they received word of the theft at 5 am this morning from an Auschwitz Museum security guard. The police suspect that the theft was carried out by several people who were well-prepared and had information about the sign’s location and the camp layout. The sign was screwed off on one side and ripped off on the other, and then dragged to a vehicle, in which it’s believed that the thieves escaped together with the sign.
Police have offered a 5,000 złoty reward for any information that leads to the recovery of the sign. If you have any information, please call 997 to file a report.
Image: The sign at the entrance to Auschwitz / Courtesy Neil