Stolen Gate with the Inscription “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work sets you free”) from Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site Now Found in Norway
The historic gate stolen from Dachau Concentration Camp by unknown persons during the night of November 1 to 2, 2014 has now been recovered by police in Bergen, Norway. The theft two years ago was the first and most serious raid on the historic set of buildings in the history of the memorial site. The act of desecration had targeted the camp gate located in the entrance building, or “Jourhaus”: a key symbol of the great suffering the camp prisoners were forced to endure.
The President of the Comité International de Dachau, General Jean-Michel Thomas, took note of this news with great satisfaction, stating, “Even though we still do not know what was behind this outrage, I offer thanks in the name of the survivors’ association for the discovery of this crime and the international concern that was shown following its perpetration.”
Dr. Gabriele Hammermann, Director of Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, was also very relieved and offered thanks to the police in Norway and Germany for their meticulous investigations. “Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, along with the survivors and their relatives, is delighted that the background to this act is now being cleared up and that this particularly symbolic relict of the concentration camp will once again be returned to the memorial following a judicial review. Of course, it will be presented to the public again once the restoration work is completed. A decision will be made together with the Stiftung Bayerische Gedenkstätten (Bavarian Memorial Foundation) regarding the placement of the gate, whether at its former location or as part of the permanent exhibition.”
The Director of the Bavarian Memorial Foundation, Karl Freller, was overjoyed at this news, and responded by saying, “It is a great relief to me that this piece of original evidence of the Nazis’ cynicism and contempt for humankind has been recovered. I congratulate the security authorities on their transnational success.“
Il 22 marzo del 1933, alcune settimane dopo la nomina di Adolf Hitler alla Cancelleria del Reich, fu creato a Dachau un campo di concentramento per prigionieri politici. Questo spazio fu modello per i successivi campi di concentramento e in seguito divenne la "scuola di violenza" per i soldati delle SS, sotto la cui amministrazione sottostava. Durante i dodici anni della sua esistenza più di 200.000 persone provenienti da tutta Europa furono rinchiuse qui e nei numerosi campi secondari. Sono stati giustiziati 41.500 prigionieri. Il 29 Aprile del 1945 le truppe americane liberarono i sopravvissuti.
Il memoriale fu edificato nel 1965 sui terreni dell’ex campo di concentramento per iniziativa dei sopravvissuti che si sono riuniti per costituire il Comitato Internazionale di Dachau. Il governo dello stato di Baviera concesse un contributo finanziario. Fra il 1996 e il 2003 è stata creata una nuova esposizione sulla storia del campo di concentramento di Dachau, seguendo il leitmotiv del "Sentiero dei Prigionieri".