Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Auschwitz death camp sign stolen

Arbeit Macht Frei sign
It is the first time the sign has been stolen in the camp's history

The infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland has been stolen, officials there say.

The sign was taken from above the gate overnight. Police are looking for the culprits.

It is the first time the sign, made by prisoners, has been stolen since it was erected in the early 1940s.

More than a million people - 90% of them Jews - were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz during World War II.

"It's a terrible thing," Auschwitz official Pawel Sawicki told the BBC.

"It had to be planned - it's obvious it wasn't someone who just came along to do it," he said.

The missing sign, which is occasionally removed by officials for conservation work, has been replaced by a replica.

During the Holocaust, hundreds and thousands of prisoners passed under the sign, whose words mean "Work Sets You Free", but the vast majority were murdered or worked to death.

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