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Sweden's help sought in Auschwitz theft probe

The Local/AFP · 30 Dec 2009, 20:59

Published: 30 Dec 2009 17:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Dec 2009 20:59 GMT+01:00

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Polish Justice Minister Krzysztof Kwiatkowski spoke with his Swedish counterpart Beatrice Ask, the Polish ministry said in a statement.

"Their discussion focused on a request for judicial assistance being drawn up by regional prosecutors in Krakow," the southern Polish city where the probe is being steered, it said.

The relatively rare step of involving ministers came "because of the importance of the case", it added.

Earlier, a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office in Krakow, Boguslawa Marcinkowska, said the request would be made on Wednesday, but declined to provide any further details, the Polish PAP news agency reported.

Five men are currently being held in Poland in connection with December 18th theft of the iconic, five metre long sign, which translates from German to “Work sets you free”.

Polish police are also hunting for a sixth person, reportedly based in Sweden, who they believe may have acted as an intermediary for whoever ordered the theft of the sign, an unnamed source told PAP.

Sources close to the investigation added that four of the thieves now in custody claim they were unaware of the sign’s historical significance.

While Polish investigators said the mastermind of the theft lived abroad, they have consistently refused to confirm media reports that the individual is in Sweden.

They have also refused to say whether his or her name is known to Polish justice authorities, or that they plan to ask the Swedes for an arrest.

Poland had contacted Interpol and its European Union equivalent Europol in the wake of the theft at the former World War II death camp, on the edge of the southern Polish city of Oswiecim.

Police recovered the metal sign two days later in northern Poland, charging the five suspects with theft and damage. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison.

The men, aged 20 to 39, have criminal records for theft or violence, but none appeared to be neo-Nazis although they may have been working for neo-Nazis, police have said.

According to the BBC, police began to suspect the theft had a Swedish connection following the arrest of two of the suspects in the Polish port of Gdynia, which has ferry connections to Sweden.

Unconfirmed reports that the theft was carried out at the behest a Swedish collector surfaced at the same time that the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reported last week that an extremist group was plotting a politically-motivated attack against the Swedish parliament, the foreign ministry, and the prime minister's residence.

Citing unidentified sources, the tabloid said the attack was meant to be financed by the sale of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign.

Swedish intelligence agency Säpo said last Thursday it was investigating a far-right attack plot on the Swedish parliament and prime minister's residence.

"I can confirm the fact that we have some information about alleged plots on the parliament and prime minister's residence," Säpo spokesman Patrik Peter told AFP.

Story continues below…

However, Peter couldn’t confirm whether there was a connection between the plot and the theft of the sign from the main gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"I have no information to give you about that," the intelligence agency's spokesperson said.

When it was recovered, the sign had been cut into three pieces, with the letter "i" from "Frei" abandoned at the camp, a Polish state-run museum and memorial since 1947.

The sign has long symbolised the horror of the camp, created by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940 and run until Soviet troops liberated it in 1945.

This was where 1.1 million mainly Jewish prisoners from across Europe died during World War II: some from overwork and starvation, but mostly in the camp's notorious gas chambers. Among the other victims were non-Jewish Poles, Roma and captured Soviet soldiers.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:48 December 30, 2009 by Hagen
I think that the correct translation of ,' Arbeit Macht Frei', is ' work makes you free',

Anyway, I cannot see what the fuss is all about, the war has been over for 65 years.

If somebody went and stole the sign from one of Stalins Gulags, would there be such a fuss ?
19:56 December 30, 2009 by Henckel
@Hagen: They're making such a big fuss about it became many have made the memorialization of the Holocaust almost into a religion in and of itself. As a result, anything that detracts from the memorialization and constant elucidation of the Holocaust is seen as an attack on their belief-system.
20:18 December 30, 2009 by israeli
hagen and henckel. both names sound like names of the poeple who burnt jewish villages in old time europe. i suppose every generation has its own hagens and henckels. it is natural for these poeple to not want the remembrance of what their ancestors did to poeple like my poeple. they are just too ashamed to remember.
20:31 December 30, 2009 by wxman
It's like a camp survivor said many years after the war, and I'm paraphrasing, "The Germans need to be bombed every 25 years or so, no matter what they're doing".
20:55 December 30, 2009 by J.Ravier
@Henckel: Why don't you keep your stinky thoughts to yourself ?

@Isreali: All right, they may be racist bastards...but I kindly remind you that Israel in general is not fond of reminding that when leading their war on terrorism, they also bomb civilians... No one likes to be reminded his errors and I assure you that even if he paid a huge price, the Jewish people doesn't have the monopoly of persecution. So please, honour the dead and stop thinking everyone hates you, it does not do you any good.

PS: Don't dare calling me a racist or nazi, you would prove yourself wronger...
20:58 December 30, 2009 by krrodman
I applaud the efforts of the German people to come to terms with their past. The sign is a symbol of those efforts.

Hagen, you mention Stalin. Truth be told, the Stalinists to this day deny that they murdered millions of their own people. And the Austrians still consider themselves victims of the Germans. And the French talk loudly about the resistance fighters, but would like to forget about the Vichy collaborators. And the Italian followers of St. Augustine would like to rebuild the Roman Ghetto.

Hagen, you are correct when you say that WWII ended 65 years ago. But, the Holocaust was the horrific result of almost 2,000 years of European antisemitism. Are you really offended by a small reminder of the horrors of hatred and racism?
22:17 December 30, 2009 by israeli

what you call "war on terrorism" ( which is a definition invented by western socialist newspapers who try to justify terrorism) is just the israeli poeple struglle to maintain normal life in this corner of the world. if your palestinian friend would make peace with israel instead of bombing israeli citizens for so many years, there would be no reason to us fighting in gaza against- let me remind you- horrible terrorists - like the hammas one.

it is an insult to logic what you try to do in diminishing the place of the holocauste in history. go back to school and study more before you comment again.
22:54 December 30, 2009 by Jimmy
dear israeli,

just a little historical fact that seems to be forgotten.

Didn't the israeli's use terrorist tactics against the british before gaining their independent state????

Little saying about glass houses
00:19 December 31, 2009 by calebian22

Please elaborate on these terrorist tactics used against the British. You can't drop something like that without backing it up with some historical references. Are you speaking of the Haganah(meaning Defense, defense against unwarranted Arab attacks on minority Jewish communities) and the war for Independence in '48 precipitated by the Arab community's rejection of the FN partition plan? I would very much like to hear your historical facts.
00:24 December 31, 2009 by Hagen
@Krrodman.:-. Are you really offended by a small reminder of the horrors of hatred and racism? ""

Stalin allowed seven Million Ukrainians to starve to death in the 1930's and he exterminated many more people in various republics of the USSR.

These people Never get a mention, not Ever ! it's all holocaust this, holocaust that and the big problem is; when somebody asks the Israelis, why don't you give back the land they stole from the Palestinians, ?? they deflect the questions and criticism by mentioning the Holocaust, it worked time after time after time !

Well they milked the sacred cow which is the Holocaust and it has run dry !

It is time to face facts, bury the Holocaust because it is now history and we should be asking the Israelis the hard question, when are you going to start treating the Palestinians fairly, when are you going to accept the various UN resolutions passed to facilitate a normalisation of the holy land so all the militant Moslems in all the Moslem lands will no longer have the excuse to commit terror atrocities against the West !!

Moslems see the West as supporting Israel against their Brother Moslems and it is like a Boil, it is rotton and it is festering, and somebody has to solve the problem without delay !
00:38 December 31, 2009 by nukeiran
Dearest Jimmy,

The Israeli "terrorist" tactics were directed at the British army/soldiers! Not women and children on buses, in cafe's, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, supermarkets etc. etc.

Hagen and Henckel are two of the most stupid talk-backers I've ever read.

J.Ravier, Please don't believe everything you read in Hamas and Hezbollah newspapers.

Happy new year to everybody!

(apart from Himmler and Goebbels)
03:25 December 31, 2009 by Davey-jo
Of course the Israeli state is act of theft. It cannot be denied. No-body can say otherwise without covering themselves in shame. Israel is a stolen state. Now let us move on and deal with the consequences of that act. That the theft continues cannot be denied. That no policeman comes along to stop the crime is also apparent. That the world stands by and let's the theft continue is also a shameful fact. How to arrest the criminals? I have no answer.
05:29 December 31, 2009 by krrodman

Good questions:

1. First, Stalin. The progeny of Stalin are still in power in Russia. Yes, more sophisticated. Perhaps a bit more democratic, but in the end they are the modern version of autocratic Russian rulers. They have no desire to confront Stalin.

2. Refresh my memory if you will. I do not remember Israel stealing anything from anyone. I do recall that a piece of territory that was part of greater Palestine was given to the Jewish people by the United Nations. To this day it is a legal sovereign state. The formation of Israel was not the first time that the west created nation-states in the middle east. After WWI the British created Jordan as a gift to the Hashemite family of Saudi Arabia for helping the British during WWI. In fact, the Palestinians should be welcome in Jordan as citizens of the original trans-Jordan. Don't you find it a bit odd that the Jordanians don't want to have anything to do with the Palestinians?

3. Finally, while I personally think that a political solution to the middle eastern problem will have to include making Jerusalem an "open" city, only a fool would expect Israel to give up territory while its enemies plan for its very destruction, especially in light of the fact that the Israelis took control of Jerusalem after having been attacked. Or put differently, when do the victors of war simply return land to vanquished?
07:32 December 31, 2009 by Jimmy
How about the King David hotel bombing, 22 July 1946. Dead 91 injured 46 (British 28, Arabs 41 Jews 17 and 5 others)

There is more but to say only British army was attacked so that was okay means that not one civilian was killed or is one or two acceptable
08:19 December 31, 2009 by nukeiran
Again Jimmy, Who was the target?!

It was the Mandate Secretariat and part of the British military headquarters!!

Telephoned warnings were sent to the switchboard by the hotel's main lobby, the Palestine Post newspaper, and the French consulate. No evacuation was carried out!!

Yes, accidents happen and civilians get killed (ask any moral army in the world)(ask NATO!) Or do you think they planned on killing the 5 Jews also. Anybody can Wiki.

Try it sometimes.
08:31 December 31, 2009 by calebian22

What you failed to mention is that the King David Hotel, housed a division of the British MILITARY headquarters and telephone warnings were sent to the non British switchboards of the hotel and the French consulate. This attack while unfortunate, was primarily an attack on a military site.

Suicide attacks by Palestinians in pizza parlors, train station teminals, and nightclubs are civilian sites. Indiscriminate quassam missle attacks with no targeting capability into Israeli suburbs like Sderot, Ashkelon or Ashdod are also intended to kill civilians, not military personnel. Rarely do Israeli soldiers at checkpoints get killed by suicide bombs. Why? Because the only time one is detonated is only after a Palestinian is caught trying to pass through to attack a civilian target within Israel.

There is a difference between Israel's actions past and present versus the Palestinians. Anyone who says differently is either naive, not a student of history or dissembling to mask their general hatred for Jews.
13:02 December 31, 2009 by Jimmy
I am not condoning what the palestines are doing. But pointing out that all involved have innocent blood on their hands and should admit to it not hide it away.

Why not admit to it and move on, the palestines as far as i am aware do not admit what they are doing is wrong the same as what happened in the late 1940's.

Yes the Arab countries declared war on israel and got their collective arses kicked and so they deserved to, and it should happen when the arse wipes attack innocent targets but then admit that israel is not as innocent as they make out to be.
18:48 December 31, 2009 by nsp
I hoped this discussion would less 1940' more 2009...

No comments on neonazi movement in Sweden (is it neo here...)?

Anyone bother co comment the fact that whatever bad happens it's always "the individual living in Sweden" but if someone's a hero its a full and proper "Swede". This shows in a nutshell, what is the view on immigrants in The Most Tolerant Country On Earth...
03:17 January 1, 2010 by Davey-jo
@ krrodman

East Jerusalem is now occupied territory. The west bank is now occupied territory. Occupied territory = stolen by force of arms.

The treaty to set up Israel was an act of theft by the UN. It had no right to take land from the Palestinians and dole it out to the Israelis.

So unless you have any else to add we'll accept that Israel is an act of theft and move on.
05:15 January 1, 2010 by nukeiran
@ Davey-jo!

You have just finished celebrating the birth of a Jew that lived in east Jerusalem 2010 years ago!!! Why don't you cry out about the genocide going on in Darfur?? What about the Kurdish people in Turkey and Iraq?? How about the Chechens?? And Tibet?? Oh I know why... because they're not Jewish/Israeli. Abracadabra... Antisemitism!!! Grow up or s##k my Jewish circumcised d##k!
11:04 January 1, 2010 by krrodman

In fact I do have much to add.

Question for you: Do you believe that the UN has the right or authority to demand that Israel return to 1967 borders? If your answer is yes, the UN is the legal authority in this matter, then I assume you agree that the UN is the legal authority in all matters regarding Israel.(certainly they can not be the legal authority is just some of the issues here. It must be all or none).

And if your answer is "yes", the UN is the primary legal authority, then you must accept and recognize that Israel is a legal sovereign state as it was created by the legal authority of the UN.

So, let's here from you DAvey. Speak up. I want to hear you say that Israel is a sovereign state with the legal right to exist and defend itself as does any other sovereign state.

Of course, if you answer is that the UN is not the prevailing legal authority here, then please stop referring to UN resolutions regarding Israel. They have no legal value by your own admission.
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