|"This chilling sign, meaning 'work sets you free', greeted Jews arriving at Auschwitz during the Holocaust." (AFP/Getty Images)|
By Tony Paterson
The Independent, December 31, 2010
"A former Swedish neo-Nazi was yesterday jailed for more than two years for masterminding the theft of the infamous 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign from the entrance of memorial museum on the site of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. The 16ft wide sign, a lasting symbol of the Holocaust which states 'Work Sets You Free', was removed from the gate of the former Auschwitz camp more than a year ago and found in woods in northern Poland three days later. A gang of five Poles with a so-called 'Swedish connection' was held responsible for the theft. They had planned to ship the sign to Sweden where it was to be sold. The theft provoked international outrage and protests from Israel and Jewish groups worldwide. An estimated 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, were systematically murdered at Auschwitz. The camp site is now a museum and serves as one of the world's most chillingly powerful Holocaust memorials.
It is partially funded by the German government and it attracts thousands of visitors annually. Yesterday, a court in the southern Polish city of Krakow, sentenced Anders Hogstrom, 34 -- a former Swedish neo-Nazi who is said to have turned his back on the far right a decade ago -- to two years and eight months imprisonment for his role in the theft. Hogstrom, who helped set up a far right, anti-immigrant group called the National Socialist Front in Sweden in the 1990s, told the court calmly after he was sentenced: 'Yes I accept the verdict.' A Polish court spokesman said Hogstrom had reached a deal with prosecutors which would allow him to be sent to Sweden to serve his sentence. [...]"