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AUSCHWITZ

Swede jailed for Auschwitz sign theft

A Polish court on Thursday sentenced a Swedish neo-Nazi leader who admitted to masterminding the theft of the Auschwitz death camp entrance sign, to 32 months behind bars in his homeland.

Swede jailed for Auschwitz sign theft

Anders Högström, 34, who had risked up to 10 years behind bars if convicted in Poland of masterminding the theft, struck a plea deal announced late November before his case reached court.

On Thursday, a court in the southern Polish city of Krakow, accepted the 32-month prison term agreed in the plea bargain.

“He will serve the sentence in Sweden, in accordance with an agreement with Swedish justice authorities,” Polish court spokesman Rafal Lisak told AFP Thursday after the court announced its verdict.

Anders Högström was arrested in Sweden on a Polish warrant in February on suspicion of ordering the theft of the infamous “Arbeit macht frei” sign from the site of the World War II Nazi camp in the southern Polish city of Oswiecim.

Polish police recovered the five-metre metal sign — which means “Work Will Set You Free” in German — two days after it went missing late last year. It had been chopped into three pieces.

Five Polish men were arrested and charged with the actual theft of the sign, three of whom have already been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

The two others are still to face trial.

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

He 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 six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, one 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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NAZI

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.