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Last updated at 15:03 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Auschwitz sign recovered

Summary

21 December 2009

Polish police say they have recovered the sign from the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp which had been stolen on Friday. The sign has come to symbolise Auschwitz, where more than one million people died.

Reporter:
Adam Easton

The original iron sign over the entrance of Nazi death camp, Auschwitz

The original iron sign over the entrance which roughly translates as 'work sets you free'

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Report

Police said the sign, which had been cut up and divided into its three constituent words, had been found in a small town in northern Poland. They said five men, between twenty and thirty nine years of age, had been detained and taken south to Krakow, not far from Auschwitz, for questioning.

It's not clear at this stage why the thieves stole the five metre long black hollow steel sign. Its theft triggered a nationwide search with the authorities offering a $40,000 reward for information.

Both the presidents of Poland and Israel condemn the crime. A spokesman for Auschwitz, now a museum which attracts a million visitors a year, compared it to desecrating a cemetery. He said the sign would be repaired and hung over the main entrance gate. A replica has already gone up in its place.

Adam Easton, BBC News, Warsaw

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Vocabulary

constituent words

part of a sentence or expression

detained

kept in one place (here, by the police)

at this stage

at this time

hollow

not solid - having an empty space inside

triggered

caused a situation or chain of events to start

nationwide

happening in all parts of the country

authorities

a group of people with official responsibility

condemn

criticise something very strongly usually for moral reasons

desecrating

damaging or showing no respect towards something

replica

an exact copy