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CRIME

Thieves steal Dachau death camp gate

An iron gate with the infamous sign "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will set you free") at the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau in Bavaria has been stolen, police said on Sunday.

Thieves steal Dachau death camp gate
Before and after photos at the Dachau gate. Photo: DPA

The theft of the historic wrought iron gate, which measures two metres by one metre, apparently happened overnight, police said in a statement.

The site has no surveillance system, but is monitored by security guards and the theft apparently took place between their rounds of the camp, said police, who have appealed for any possible witnesses.

The head of the foundation of memorial sites in the Bavaria region and an elected official, Karl Freller, called the theft an "ignoble act".

The Dachau camp, located a few kilometres from Munich, opened in 1933, less than two months after Adolf Hitler became German chancellor. It was initially set up as a place to incarcerate political prisoners before becoming a death camp during World War II killing more than 41,000 Jews.

The camp was liberated by US troops on April 29, 1945. Today some 800,000 visitors from around the world visit the camp each year.

The same "Work will set you free" sign at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Poland was stolen in 2009, sparking a global outcry.

The mastermind of that theft, Swedish neo-Nazi Anders Hoegstroem, was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

The metal sign was eventually recovered cut up into three pieces, leading museum officials to display a replica above the entrance until it was restored in 2011.

SEE ALSO: Police probe pupils over Hitler salutes

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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