Poland asks Sweden to probe Auschwitz theft

Poland has asked Sweden to question three suspects about the theft of the "Arbeit macht frei" sign at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Polish prosecutors said on Thursday.

Poland asks Sweden to probe Auschwitz theft
Photo: Jarek Praszkiewicz/AP/Scanpix (file)

“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.

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.

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Swedish language class teacher in Holocaust row

A substitute teacher has been told off for challenging a Holocaust denier during a Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) class in southern Sweden.

Swedish language class teacher in Holocaust row
The former Nazi death camp Auschwitz. Photo: AP Photo/Alik Keplicz

The teacher claimed one of the students questioned the Holocaust after watching a news segment about the persecution of Jews in an SFI class at adult education centre Kärnan in Helsingborg, newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad has reported.

But the student said he was misunderstood and claims the teacher yelled at him.

The school co-ordinator later criticized the teacher over the incident – which prompted the student to leave the classroom – according to a recorded meeting about the incident quoted by Helsingborgs Dagblad.

“The student talked to me and he said he felt misunderstood and insulted and painted as a Holocaust denier and Nazi,” the co-ordinator is quoted as saying on the recording.

“What he said was to deny the Holocaust,” replied the teacher.

“Yes, but he felt unfairly treated after he had been accused of that.”

“He wasn’t accused. I only told him it is not okay to say that the Jews just lie.”

The co-ordinator went on to later add: “You should remember that what we think of as history is the history we've been taught. When we have students who have read other history books there's no point setting facts against each other.”

School principal Lena Stenbäck told The Local on Thursday morning that she was to meet with the teacher on Tuesday to discuss the incident, which she said had left the student "very upset".

“I can’t say that the teacher has done anything wrong – I’m sure he tried his best. But a direct conflict in front of all the other students can so easily get out of hand and our opinion is that it is better to deal with that outside of class.”

“The class was about Auschwitz, so they were supposed to discuss it. If a student denies the Holocaust you should challenge that – it’s part of our mission as a school – but this is a matter of how you challenge it.”

The Holocaust has been a hot topic in Sweden recently, after Jews voiced concern of a fresh wave of anti-Semitism following the fatal attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen.

Last week, Swedish Radio was forced to apologize after an interviewer asked the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden if Jews themselves were responsible for anti-Semitism.