“Arbeit Macht Frei” returns to Auschwitz

Police experts hold up parts of signThe infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign which was stolen last month from its place over the entrance to Auschwitz has been returned.

Polish police handed the sign, broken into three pieces by the thieves, over to Auschwitz museum official in a small ceremony in Krakow on Thursday. It was then transported the 50 miles to the museum where conservation experts examined it carefully.

When the sign was first found two days after the theft, Auschwitz officials had hoped to have the sign repaired and back in place by January 27th, the 65th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, but that’s no longer in the cards.

There’s a replica over the gate right now, and officials aren’t even sure they’re going to put the original sign back even once it is restored.

The sign has been examined in recent weeks by police forensic experts for evidence, and the museum’s conservationists will assess the damage and determine how to repair it, Auschwitz spokesman Pawel Sawicki said.

“It’s a very long process,” Sawicki said, stressing that the sign would not be returned any time soon to its original spot above the main entrance at Auschwitz — if at all.

I wouldn’t blame them at all if they decided to keep it inside the museum and kept the replica outside. Even if weren’t even more of a target of neo-Nazi collector commissions than it was before, the exposure to the elements is probably bad for its long-term health, and Auschwitz already has more than its fair share of upkeep troubles.