Warsaw, Poland – After Theft, Auschwitz Sign Won’t Go Back To Gate

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    Officials show the restored notorious "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free) sign in Oswiecim, Poland on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. The sign was stolen from the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in 2009 and bent and cut into several pieces. In painstaking conservation work it has been welded together. It has been replaced by a replica and the original will probably be moved to an exhibition hall at the camp's memorial. (AP Photo/ Jarek Praszkiewicz) Warsaw, Poland – An international council that oversees Auschwitz-Birkenau has decided that the notorious sign that once spanned the main gate at Auschwitz will not return to its original spot after being repaired from the damage it suffered during a 2009 theft.

    The sign bearing the Nazis’ cynical slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Sets You Free) will instead be housed in a planned exhibition hall, said Pawel Sawicki, a spokesman for the memorial site.

    Sawicki said the proposal to house the sign in a secure indoor center came from director Piotr Cywinski. It was accepted by the International Auschwitz Council — a 25-member body made up of Holocaust survivors, historians and others — at a two-day meeting that ended Thursday.

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    The exhibition hall where the sign will go on permanent display is still under development and is expected to open in the coming years. It will be located at the site of the death camp that Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland during World War II.

    The sign was stolen in December 2009 in a shocking heist. Police found the sign in less than three days after a countrywide search, but by then it had been cut into several pieces — damage that took many months to repair.

    A replica of the sign now hangs in its place.


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