The “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign which was stolen from the entrance gate of Auschwitz has been found, cut into three pieces.
The 16-foot wrought-iron sign was recovered last night in northern Poland by police who arrested five men, aged in their 20s and 30s.
It had been stolen before 5 o’clock on Friday morning and had been unscrewed on one side and then wrenched off.
Andrzej Rokita, district police chief in the city of Krakow, said: “We can say that none of the five are members of a neo-Nazi group. Their intent was undoubtedly robbery-related.”
Police had stepped up security checks at airports and border crossings and searched scrap metal yards over the weekend during their hunt for the sign, which means “Work will set you free”
The Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum said that a replica sign which at present is placed over the gate will remain in its place until it is possible to put back the original sign, after it has been put back together, necessary conservation works are carried out and new security methods are put in place.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “It is a relief that this important symbol of the Holocaust will be returned to the Auschwitz museum, and we are grateful to the Polish authorities for acting so swiftly.”