19 May 2011

Auschwitz sign restored

1:06 pm on 19 May 2011

Museum officials at the former Auschwitz concentration camp in southern Poland have shown a newly restored metal entrance sign, 17 months after it was stolen and damaged.

The theft of the sign, with its inscription, 'Arbeit Macht Frei' ('Work sets you free'), was widely condemned.

The sign symbolizes the camp where more than a million people, mostly European Jews, were murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Museum officials have now restored it. Technicians unveiled the restored sign in the laboratory of the camp museum.

More than one million people, mostly Jews from across Europe, were murdered by the Nazis at the camp.

The BBC reports that most of the work to restore the sign was done on site, but a master blacksmith welded it back together.

Museum director Piotr Cywinski said the sign would probably form part of a new exhibition.

A copy of the original is in place above the entrance gate.

Thieves cut up the black wrought-iron sign into its three constituent words in order to fit it into a getaway car after taking it down from the main gate.

Five Polish men were later convicted of the theft on behalf of Anders Hoegstroem, who helped found the National Socialist Front party in Sweden in 1994.

He is serving a prison sentence in his homeland following his conviction in Poland.