18 December 2009
Following the news this morning that the iconic “Arbeit macht frei” [“works makes you free”] sign has been stolen from the entrance to the Auschwitz camp, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev issued the following statement:
"I was shocked to learn this morning of the theft of the sign, which has come to symbolize the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.
While we don’t yet know exactly who stole the sign, the theft of such a symbolic object is an attack on the memory of the Holocaust, and an escalation from those elements that would like to return us to darker days. I call on all enlightened forces in the world – who fight against antisemitism, racism, xenophobia and the hatred of the other, to join together to combat these trends.
I am in contact with the director of the Auschwitz Museum and have offered him any assistance and help we can provide. I am sure that the Polish authorities will do everything in their power to find the sign, and the culprits and to bring them to justice."
Over 1 million people were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau, some 90% of whom were Jews.