Five men arrested in Poland for stealing the infamous “Arbeit macht frei” sign at the Auschwitz concentration camp have been described as common criminals, not neo-Nazis. The metal sign, which means “work sets you free” in English, was also recovered, broken in three pieces. The theft caused widespread outrage, especially in Israel and among Jewish groups, but police said it appeared to be simply a money-making scam.
“We will try to hand the sign back to the Auschwitz museum as soon as possible,” said deputy regional police chief Marek Wojniczka, “I think before the 65th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. We will do all we can to make it happen on time.”
Auschwitz has become synonymous with the horror of the Nazi years. More than a million people died there, most of them Jews, before the camp was liberated by the Soviet army on January 27 1945. That date has since been recognised as International Holocaust Day.