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Swedish Auschwitz sign suspect contacts lawyer

TT/AFP/The Local · 5 Jan 2010, 17:57

Published: 05 Jan 2010 10:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Jan 2010 17:57 GMT+01:00

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"This request is now being passed on to the Prosecutor-General, who will decide which public prosecution office will handle the case," said Martin Valfridsson, a spokesman for Justice Minister Beatrice Ask.

Ask's Polish counterpart Krzysztof Kwiatowski informed the Swedish minister shortly before the end of the year that Warsaw was planning to request Sweden's help following the disappearance on December 18th of the infamous sign from the entrance to the Nazi death camp.

The Polish prosecutor leading the preliminary investigation has indicated that the macabre crime was masterminded by a citizen of a country outside Poland. He would not however confirm media reports that a Swede or Swedes were suspected of being behind the plot.

But high profile defence lawyer Peter Althin said he expects to represent a Swedish citizen reported by Aftonbladet to have been planning to sell the sign to a wealthy British Nazi before ditching the plot and informing Interpol.

Althin would not confirm that his prospective client had confessed to involvement in the crime, only that he would represent the man should the prosecutor choose to press charges.

"I won't get into it any more for the moment, except to say that I have, in Sweden, met the man who has been written about," Althin told news agency TT.

British newspaper reports on Monday suggested that a Swedish right-wing extremist group agreed to help a wealthy UK-based collector and Nazi sympathizer acquire the sign in exchange for "huge money".

“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 based in Sweden told the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

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

According to the Mirror, the suspects in Poland were merely “bit-part players” in a larger international plot which would have also benefited pro-Nazi groups in Sweden.

“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 source told the newspaper.

A rumoured Swedish connection surfaced around the time the sign was recovered three days after its removal from the front gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp, with Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reporting that an extremist group was plotting a politically-motivated attack against the Swedish parliament, the foreign ministry, and the prime minister's residence.

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While Swedish intelligence agency Säpo confirmed it was investigating a far-right attack, the agency refused to say whether there was a connection between the Swedish plot and the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign.

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 symbolized the horror of the camp, created by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland in 1940 and run until Soviet troops liberated it in 1945.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:50 January 5, 2010 by MTTRN
Nazism is still alive unfortunately. The idea that such a powerful movement that plundered Europe for years could disappear in a day or two is ridiculous. They are all around the world and not in Sweden only. After WW2 most of them moved to America (google "Operation Paperclip") where they blended with the ruling elite (Hitler was sponsored by Bush`s grandfather Prescot Bush) I`m not an expert on Swedish history but was there not a Swedish prime minister who was killed because of his campaign to condemn Hitler and other dictatorial regimes.
13:32 January 5, 2010 by Beynch
@MTTRN. Your comment is off the mark. I doubt this theft is linked to "naziism". As for `dictatorial regimes` (your word) I assume you also include Ortega, Chavez, Kim, Stalin, Ché, Marx and O. Palme in this misappropriated invective. The theft of the sign at Ośćswięcim is more linked with stupidity, arrogance, and selfishness rather than any hidden nazi sympathies. If a a person is found guilty of this crime one can only hope that a judge also includes 'stupidity' when considering any punishment. Society, especially the liberal one, needs to learn to not peg anything unpleasant on the nazis. That was 75 years ago.
14:31 January 5, 2010 by Audrian
Nazism is an ideology, which has spread to Western Europe, East Europe and Russia. In the US, the KKK is its off-shoot. They are all believe in the superiority of the white race and establishing white only state. The hard core followers of this ideology are mostly uneducated and disaffected voters.

There are also social systems with dictorial tendencies. The difference between these tendencies and Nazism is that the former does not believe in white supermacity. You might criticise the dictatos, which Beyneh mentioned above, for pursuing self motivated rule but not for being white supermacist. Three of those Beynch identified are not from the white race. One of them, Marx, was a writer in the area of politics, economics, sociology and philosophy. The comparison attempted does not appear to hold. As a matter of fact Marx, probably, would not have approved the dictotrial rule some of the above mentioned people established.
15:04 January 5, 2010 by Craptastical

The KKK isn't an offshoot of Nazism, and Nazism isn't an offshoot of the KKK.

While they share some similar goals and ideologies they have completely different origins.
15:37 January 5, 2010 by MTTRN

I was actually trying to focus on the bigger picture here and refute the statement that Sweden is pro nazi .I`m sure that a genuine research on nazism will help you help you get a better grasp of the real issue.
16:20 January 5, 2010 by Beynch
@MTTRN. Perhaps you can fill me in on what the "real issue" is? And especially on what may have been the cause of the "real issue", if indeed in 2010, the nazi ghost is still alive and well after 75 years. Your explanation should preferably exclude the word "Hitler".
16:28 January 5, 2010 by MTTRN

A certain effort is required on your part.As I said do some research.
17:06 January 5, 2010 by ladyluck37
I know it's annoying when people comment on grammar and spelling, but the headline is completely unreadable. Also, the second paragraph's misspelling of "public" is rather funny. It left me wondering what the pubic prosecution office does exactly.
18:08 January 5, 2010 by The Local

Hm, points taken. Nobody needs that kind of prosecution office. Thanks. Updated now.
22:55 January 6, 2010 by wxman
Sweden not pro-nazi?? Maybe not today, but when the rest of Europe was at war with them, Sweden declared itself neutral and continued to trade key production goods with them. Not the least of which was stainless steel. If you doubt it, ask the Norweigens if they think they could have used a little help from their "neighbor" in those dark days.
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