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A missing piece of history

Lydia K. Beard, Staff Writer

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Between the first Saturday and Sunday of November, the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work makes you free) gate was stolen from Dachau, a concentration camp during the Holocaust, near Munich, Germany. Who stole it and the exact time of the theft are unknown at the moment. An investigation is being performed by the police and state services for security.

The Dachau concentration camp was one of the first Nazi camps to open in Germany in the year 1933. It was first used for forced labor and was then used to contain Jews during the Holocaust. After the Nuremburg laws passed in 1935, many minorities were sent to the camp. It is estimated that over 200,000 people died at Dachau, though the numbers are an estimate due to no records and disruption.

This is the first theft from Dachau, but it is not the first theft at a concentration camp. In 2009, the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign was stolen from Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp located in Poland near Oświęcim. Auschwitz was built to hold Polish soldiers in 1940. It started as a concentration camp, and later became an extermination camp with the first extermination in 1941. A former Swedish neo-Nazi leader and two Poles were punished for the crime. The sign was discovered cut into three pieces in the north of the country.

Not only is there an “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau, there are also various concentration camps and ghetto camps with the same words posted. Since the camps were work camps, the sign was to show that redemption would come through work. While these camps were primarily work camps, they would later serve as death camps for thousands of Jews, war prisoners, and minorities. This was due to the Nazi’s “Final Solution” to solve what they considered as the problem with Jews.

Officials believe that the theft occurred due to the dwindling amount of Holocaust survivors. So far there are no traces of the location of the sign or whose possession it is in. Many are appalled that someone would desecrate such a symbolic piece of history that reminds us all of the innocent who lost their lives during the Holocaust.

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The student news site of Jacksonville High School
A missing piece of history