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The original Arbeit macht frei inscription returned to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum


The original Arbeit macht frei inscription, stolen from above the main gate at the site of the Auschwitz Nazi German concentration camp and extermination center in Dcember 2009, returned today to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Police Chief Commandant Andrzej Matejuk turned it over to Museum representatives at Voivodship Police Headquarters in Cracow. Museum spokesman Jarosław Mensfelt took possession of the sign and thanked the police for their outstandingly prompt and effective work in recovering it within three days.

Now, conservationists at the Memorial will work on the Arbeit macht frei sign. “At the Museum, we have not only one of the best equipped conservation workshops in Europe, but also the outstanding specialists who conserved the original four years ago,” said Museum Director Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński. “The ultimate motivation for this shocking theft remains unclear to me. I am confident that the Polish police, who have had a great success in this case, will explain everything down to the last detail,” he added.

The head of the Conservation Department, Jolanta Banaś-Maciaszczyk, expects the conservation process to last several months. “The work will involve several stages. The first of these is documenting the present condition of the sign, followed by a range of tests that are essential to planning the conservation program. The final stage will be conserving the sign and joining the parts together,” she said. “We are certain that this work will be successful.

The decision about possibly returning the original sign to its place above the gate will be made after consultation with the International Auschwitz Council and the General Monuments Conservation Officer.

Director of the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau dr Piotr M.A. Cywiński and the Head of the Preservation Departament Jola
Director of the...
The inscription in the conservation section. Photo: Paweł Sawicki
The inscription in...