Stolen Nazi camp gate with infamous sign found in Norway

A missing infamous sign from Dachau was found after two years of searching. Police are investigating the theft.

The wrought iron gate to the Nazis’ Dachau concentration camp that was stolen two years ago, prompting an international outcry, has been found in western Norway, police said Friday.

The gate, bearing the slogan “Arbeit macht frei,” or “Work sets you free,” was located in the Bergen area of Norway after authorities received an anonymous tip, German police said in a statement.

Authorities said they were trying to determine if the recovered gate is authentic, but police said there was a “high probability it is the iron gate stolen in Dachau,” Bavarian police said.

The gate seemed to be good condition, and will be handed over to German authorities “as soon as it is feasible,” according to police in Bergen.

Local newspaper Bygdannytt reported the gate was found in Ytre Arna, a town north of Norway’s second-largest city. So far, the perpetrators remain at large.

The concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, near Munich, was established by the Nazis in 1933. The missing gate, measuring 190 by 95 centimeters (75 by 37 inches), originally was set into a larger gate at the camp’s entrance.

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More than 200,000 people from across Europe were held at Dachau, and more than 40,000 prisoners died there.

The camp was turned into a memorial site, and the gate’s theft in November 2014 was viewed as a desecration. The Dachau memorial’s director described the gate as “the central symbol for the prisoners’ ordeal.” Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial labeled the theft as “an offensive attack on the memory of the Holocaust.

A replica was installed in the missing gate’s place last year as part of events marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by US forces in April 1945.

It was the second time in recent years that a Nazi camp gate was targeted by thieves.

In December 2009, the “Arbeit macht frei” sign that spanned the main gate of the Auschwitz death camp, built by the Nazis in occupied Poland, was stolen. Police found it three days later cut into pieces in a forest on the other side of Poland.

A Swedish man with a neo-Nazi past was found guilty of instigating that theft and jailed in his homeland. Five Poles also were convicted of involvement and imprisoned.

Complicated Investigation

The investigation into how an iron gate stolen from the Nazis’ Dachau concentration ended up in western Norway may be complicated because “no useable evidence” has been found, police said Saturday.

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Police spokeswoman Kari Bjoerkhaug Trones says the gate was found Nov. 28 under a tarpaulin at a parking lot in Ytre Arna.

“It has been there for quite some time with some junk under a tarpaulin. Our forensic teams have found no useable evidence like DNA,” Bjoerkhaug Trones told The Associated Press.

Jean-Michel Thomas, president of the International Dachau Committee that represents former prisoners, survivors and victims from Dachau, was “very happy” with the recovery of the gate.

By: AP