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Poland asks Sweden to probe Auschwitz theft

AFP/The Local · 8 Jul 2010, 12:35

Published: 08 Jul 2010 12:35 GMT+02:00

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"We are asking Swedish justice authorities to question three people, all of

them Swedish citizens, in the presence of our prosecutors investigating the

case," Krakow regional prosecutor spokeswoman Boguslawa Marcinkowska told AFP.

"The questioning is very important to the investigation," she added, but she refused to reveal the identity of the persons to be questioned.

Polish media reports say that Swedish millionaire Lars-Göran Wahlström allegedly asked Anders Högström to arrange the theft late last year of the infamous sign.

Last week, Polish court remanded in custody Högström, a former leader of the Swedish far-right, until September 9th.

Högström was extradited to Poland from Sweden in April and initially remanded for three months to give prosecutors probing the theft more time to question him. Högström was arrested in Sweden on a Polish warrant in February. He risks 10 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors have said Högström denies plotting the theft of the gateway

sign from the site of the camp in the southern Polish city of Oswiecim, which

has became a notorious symbol of genocide by the occupying Nazi Germans.

Polish police recovered the five-metre metal sign -- which means "Work will Set you free" in German -- two days after it went missing in December.

They have already arrested and charged five Polish men for the theft, three of whom, considered relatively minor, have already been sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The two others, suspected of playing a far more prominent role in the theft, are to be tried after Högström has been questioned.

Story continues below…

In 1994, Högström founded the National Socialist Front (Nationalsocialistisk front, NSF), a Swedish neo-Nazi movement he ran for five years before quitting.

He has told Swedish media he was to act as an intermediary to pick up the sign and sell it to a buyer, adding however that he informed Polish police about the people behind the plot.

Of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, 1 million were

murdered at Auschwitz, mostly in the camp's notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others, including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:39 July 8, 2010 by Nemesis
Everyone involved in this, no matter how large or small there involvement, should be deported to Poland to face trial, without exception.
22:58 July 8, 2010 by Andersson
There is no comment here.. I think topic not intresting to readers.
02:09 July 9, 2010 by saab

At least it provides a break from "Weekend's Finest". You can only look at those photos for so long.

And in essence, it is relevant to discussions about crime, don't you think?
10:35 July 9, 2010 by Flappytango

in poland people get actual jail time and not only fines?
14:44 July 9, 2010 by Audrian
I can understand if it is Palestinians, who are oppressed by the Jewish state, could turn against the Jewish state and its symbol. I find it difficult to comprehend why the Nazi political groups continue to harass Jews? What is it for them? What do they get from it?
17:20 July 10, 2010 by Kevin Harris

This may not have been a case of simple neo Nazi harrassment of Jews. There is a thriving market for WW2 memorabilia, especially German stuff. Collectors range from those with a genuine interest in history, to neo Nazis and plain wierdos. This item is iconic and though unsellable on the open market, would be extremely valuable on the black market. the sign may well have been stolen to order for a collector, or by someone who hoped to sell it to a collector. The trial will reveal all, I hope.

The sign seems to have been unguarded by the Poles. All the more reason for Auschwitz to be placed into the protection of the EU who can bear the cost of securing and maintaining it. Maintenance will become an important and expensive issue over the next few years as the buildings begin to fall apart.
20:54 July 11, 2010 by saab

Sorry to disappoint, but Arbeit Macht Frei is not the symbol of the Jewish state but rather it is the Star of David.

Arbeit Macht Frei is a symbol of the Nazis who used the iron sign to mock those who they were about to kill (and perhaps to fool them too).
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