Poland issues EU warrant for Swede suspected of stealing Auschwitz sign

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The sign has been replaced by a replica.

A court in Poland has issued a European Union arrest warrant for 34-year-old Anders Högström, the alleged mastermind involved in the theft of the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign from Auschwitz. The sign, later recovered cut into three pieces, was stolen from the entrance of the death camp in December last year. Five Poles have been arrested for the theft of the sign, that translates to "work sets you free". The wrought-iron sign weighs 40kg and is five metres long, and was unscrewed and ripped from above the gate of the infamous site in the heart of Poland. The theft caused outrage around the world, in particular in Poland and Israel.

Spokesman for the court of the Polish city Krakow, Rafał Lisak, said that the Swedish national is suspected of "incitement to commit theft of a cultural treasure". Höngström is the founder of a Swedish neo-Nazi group, National Socialist Front. However, he later quit the group and reeled against the extreme right-wing movement. The warrant issued for him obliges any European Union constituent country to arrest the suspect and return him to Poland for a trial.

Between 1940 and 1945, over one million Jews and other minority groups were killed in the gas chambers of, or died of starvation in, the three camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.