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Last December five men stole a sign from the Auschwitz Museum that symbolized the Holocaust and the horrors of Nazi Germany. The Polish police have just returned the sign to the former concentration camp.
Polish police have just returned the stolen sign from former Auschwitz death camp to the museum authorities. It had been taken to the Krakow forensic lab after being recovered by the police.
The Auschwitz Museum conservation staff immediately inspected the "Arbeit Macht Frei" ("Work makes you free") sign.
[Jolanta Banas, Auschwitz Museum Conservation Dpt.]:
"The sign is seriously damaged. It will definitely be a long and consuming process, it will take us a lot of time.”
[Piotr Cywinski, Auschwitz Museum Director]:
"The recovery of the original was of huge importance. People come here to see something real, something factual, something that actuallyhappened. And this is one of those fundamental symbols of this heritage site."
Auschwitz survivor Tadeusz Smerczynki explains how the sign is a powerful reminder of the Holocaust.
[Tadeusz Smerczynki, Auschwitz Survivor]:
"For all of those who every day walked past and saw it...the former prisoners of the main camp in Oswiecim, Auschwitz... this was embedded deep in their memories and it remained a symbol of that time for us, the time of cynicism, brutality and crime."
Meanwhile in Katowice, the head of the Jewish community hopes people will think twice now before trying to buy such historic symbols.
[Wlodzimierz Katc, Katowice Jewish Community]:
“The common outrage, as far as we could only imagine, in Poland and the whole world, may convince all those who would want it, that all symbols like this are not a merchandise."
Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at the Auschwitz concentration camp during Nazi Germany's WWII.