“Arbeit macht frei” Auschwitz sign stolen

Poland’s grimmest monument has lost its most famous icon.

The sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp, “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”) was stolen in the early hours of this morning.

The Polish government and Jewish groups have condemned the theft. There are no known suspects at this time and the motive is also unknown. Some Jewish groups have blamed unnamed neo-Nazi groups but none have claimed responsibility. And while there is a large and lucrative black market for stolen historical objects, such a recognizable piece would be very difficult to sell, although thefts of famous artifacts have been commissioned before.

The sign stood at the entrance to Auschwitz, one of the most notorious concentration camps set up during the Nazi regime. Located in occupied Poland, its executions, forced labor, and gas chambers sent about one million people to their deaths. Most of the victims were Jews, but Gypsies, political prisoners, and others were also killed.

The main question at the moment is how the thieves managed to cut down a sixteen-foot long iron sign and haul it away without any of the patrols of security cameras noticing them.