Posts tagged ‘auschwitz’

October 29, 2010

Reenacting the Holocaust: A Polish town remembers

REP. JOHN BOEHNER IS out campaigning for Ohio Congressional candidate Rich Iott, and why shouldn’t he be? The upcoming national election may be tight, and if Boehner wants to become Speaker of the House he’s going to need all the Republican backing he can get. And yet, Iott may prove to be a tough sell, largely due to the consternation he caused when he admitted that he regularly plays the role of an SS officer in World War II reenactments, proudly posing for cameras in an SS uniform. While Iott claims a certain admiration for the Third Reich’s military prowess, he protests that he dons the uniform not out of any genocidal impulses but solely “to keep the public aware of what happened.” In a piece on Salon.com today, Joan Walsh writes: “What’s next: Re-enacting cross-burnings while denying fealty to the Ku Klux Klan, just because…

Continued…

June 11, 2010

Swedish millionaire said to be behind Auschwitz sign theft

THE SIGN OVER THE gateway to Auschwitz concentration camp bearing the infamous slogan “Work sets you free,” which was stolen by three Polish men last December 18, may have been purloined on behalf of a Swedish millionaire. (I already wrote about the Auschwitz theft here and here.) According to today’s edition of the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Lars-Göran Wahlström, a familiar figure in the Swedish neo-Nazi movement, had asked his friend Anders Högström to arrange the theft for money. Högström, a former neo-Nazi who until recently had been working to educate young Swedes about the evils of right wing extremism, was later arrested and admitted to having hired the three Poles to do the job. They have since received jail sentences of between one and a half and two and a half years. Högström is still awaiting trial in Poland.

Högström revealed Wahlström’s name…

Continued…

April 9, 2010

Alleged Auschwitz sign thief deported to Poland

TODAY, JUST IN TIME for Holocaust Remembrance Day this weekend, the man suspected of commissioning the theft of the “Arbeit macht frei” sign from the gate of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp last December has been transferred to Polish custody by the Swedish authorities. He faces theft charges in a Cracow courtroom.

At first glance, thirty-four year-old Anders Högström would appear to be an unlikely candidate for such a crime. While he had been an active member of the far-right Swedish Nationalsocialistik front until 1999, Högström soon abandoned Nazism and joined first the left-wing Social Democratic Party and, later, Sweden’s conservative Moderata samlingspartiet. Högström soon joined an anti-Nazi organization called “Exit”…

Continued…

December 18, 2009

Iconic sign stolen from Auschwitz death camp memorial

THE THIEVES CAME BETWEEN 3:30 and 5:00 this morning. Somehow they cut a gap through the fence and circumvented the guards without being seen or heard. The four meter long sign was impossible to miss – it spelled out the words Arbeit macht frei and could be seen from a considerable distance. Working fast, they unscrewed it from above the gate where it had hung for nearly seventy years, loaded it onto a waiting vehicle and made off with it before anyone knew what had hit them. Now the theft of a sign is always trouble, but it becomes an international incident when the place from which it was stolen is called Oswiecim – better known to the outside world as Auschwitz.

World reaction has been fierce. Poland’s deputy foreign minister Andrzej Kremer spoke of a “shocking act,” since the sign “is the key symbol of this concentration camp.” Israel’s vice prime minister Silvan Schalom spoke of “an appalling deed” that represented a “desecration” of this historic site. Avner Schalev, president of the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, called the theft an attack on memory and “an escalation of those elements that would like to lead us back to darker days.” However, former president Lech Walesa has suggested that the theft is “a criminal act” rather than a political action. But so far, the police have no leads. The Polish state has posted a reward of 5,000 Zloty (1,200 Euros) for information that could lead to the apprehension of the perpetrators.

But why did the Nazis install such a bizarre sign in the first place instead of a more honest statement, such as “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”? In fact, the sign’s striking irony drives home both the horror and the perverted idealism of the Nazis’ reign of terror in Europe from 1933 to 1945…

Continued…