Stolen Nazi gate returned to original site in Dachau

DACHAU (Germany) • An iron gate with the infamous slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" ("work will set you free"), stolen from the former Nazi concentration camp of Dachau in Germany two years ago, was returned to the site on Wednesday.

The theft of the 100kg gate was reported in November 2014.

It sparked an uproar, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling the crime "appalling".

It was recovered outside Bergen in south-western Norway in December following an anonymous tip-off. At a ceremony marking the return of the gate, the president of the International Dachau Committee, Mr Jean-Michel Thomas, urged investigators to press on with the probe into the theft.

He said he was "deeply shocked by the desecration of the site dedicated to the memory of all the victims of the camp", adding that the theft had aimed to "remove a trace, a symbol of all that is represented by the inscription 'Arbeit Macht Frei' on this gate of Dachau camp that some 210,000 detainees walked through from 1933 to 1945".

The gate was taken on a Saturday night between the rounds of security guards watching the site. Police at the time said they were investigating whether neo-Nazis had committed the crime and offered a €10,000 (S$15,000) reward for information that could solve the case.

No arrests have been made so far.

Dr Gabriele Hammermann, who heads the Dachau concentration camp memorial, said the gate will now be placed in the museum rather than restored to its original position. "We had almost lost all hope of finding the gate. We made a replica that now replaces the original gate," she added.

The Dachau camp near Munich opened in 1933, less than two months after Adolf Hitler became chancellor. More than 200,000 political prisoners, Jews and others were incarcerated by the Nazis and 41,000 died before United States troops liberated it on April 29, 1945.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Stolen Nazi gate returned to original site in Dachau'. Print Edition | Subscribe