By Calvin Palmer
Polish police have contacted authorities in Sweden to track down two people suspected of being the masterminds behind last month’s theft of the “Arbeit macht frei” sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Five Poles were detained shortly after the theft of the sign, which means “work sets you free”. Police also recovered the sign, which had been cut into three pieces to fit in the getaway car.
Today Polish police said two Swedes had planned the theft.
“We have asked Sweden to confirm the personal data of two people we suspect of participating in this crime and we want to question a third person from Sweden as well, but this person has no direct link with the case,” said Artur Wrona, the prosecutor.
Prosecutors have already said the five detainees are petty criminals who acted on orders from somebody outside Poland.
“Our next steps depend on Sweden’s response, but we believe we have enough evidence to be able to press a charge of incitement to theft against at least one of these people and perhaps against both,” Wrona added.
According to a British newspaper, the sign was destined for a wealthy British Nazi sympathizer.
“The collector wanted it as a trophy — and used his neo-Nazi contacts to put word out he was prepared to pay huge money for it,” a source in Sweden told the Sunday Mirror.
“Arrangements had been made to hide the sign in a cellar in Stockholm, waiting for the British man to collect. The plan was to use the British guy’s money to fund neo-Nazi hate attacks in Sweden.”
The sign was found dumped in woods near the Baltic port of Gdansk following a tip-off from a middleman in Stockholm.
After undergoing laboratory tests, the sign will be returned to the Auschwitz museum in time for the 65th anniversary of the liberationof the Nazi death camp by the Red Army on January 27, 1945.