Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign at Auschwitz has significance

Auschwitz sign has significance

What was the intended significance of the words on the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign that was stolen from Auschwitz and later found? The words sound so trite when compared to the perversity of the Holocaust.

Rudolf Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz, adopted the motto, which translates to the ironic phrase "Work makes one free," from Dachau, a concentration camp where he had previously worked. The sign hung at the main entrance to the Auschwitz death camp.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "the grim Nazi slogan was so counter to the actual function of the camp that it has been etched into history."

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization, told the Associated Press when the sign was stolen from the Auschwitz memorial site in December, "The fact is that the 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign has become the defining symbol of the Holocaust because everyone knew that this was not a place where work makes you free, but it was the place where millions of men, women, and children were brought for one purpose only — to be murdered."

Five suspects were arrested after police found the sign cut into three pieces in northern Poland, according to news reports.

Obama gets lots of letters

How many letters does the president receive daily?

President Barack Obama requested in his first week as president to see 10 letters from Americans every day. Mike Kelleher, director of the Office of Presidential Correspondence, said the president receives about 65,000 paper letters every week and about 100,000 e-mails, 1,000 faxes and 2,500 to 3,500 phone calls per day.

"Some writers are critical of the president or his agenda, others express their agreement, while still others say they want to provide their unique perspective," Kelleher wrote in his blog at

"These letters, I think, do more to keep me in touch with what's happening around the country than just about anything else. Some of them are funny; some of them are angry; a lot of them are frustrated or sad about their current situation," Obama said in an "Inside the White House" video at that shows the process the letters go through before reaching the Oval Office.

The president responds by hand to about three or four per night, on average, according to the White House.

Get set for new 'Amazing Race'

Do you have any idea when the new season of The Amazing Race will start?

You're getting a viewing valentine: The series returns on Sunday. CBS also has picked it up for another round in the 2010-11 season.

Q&A: 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign at Auschwitz has significance 02/08/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 8, 2010 5:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. How did Florida National Guard miss soldier's neo-Nazi leanings?


    Brandon Russell, a private first class assigned to Company C of the 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion in Pinellas Park, has been in the Florida National Guard since February, 2016.

    Brandon Russell, 21, of Tampa, is a Florida National Guardsman accused in a federal complaint of illegal possession of explosives. [From YouTube]
  2. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works


    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  3. Wilson Ramos feeling good and confident, eyeing late June return to Rays


    Sitting on the bench in the Rays dugout in his full catcher's gear, Wilson Ramos talked excitedly Tuesday about the progress in his recovery from right knee surgery and the potential to be back in the major leagues by this time next month.

    "I feel like a player right now,'' Ramos said.

    Wilson Ramos is aiming to be back with the Rays by this time next month.
  4. Hernando teacher faces sexual battery charges


    BROOKSVILLE — Deputies arrested a teacher on charges of sexual battery Tuesday, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said.

  5. Drought forces tougher watering restrictions on Tampa Bay


    Homeowners in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties will be limited to watering their lawns only once a week under new, tighter watering restrictions imposed Tuesday by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

    A fallen pine tree burns and smolders in a section of pine flatwoods earlier this month in the Starkey Wilderness Preserve in Pasco County. Drought conditions have helped spark wildfires across the state. Now homeowners in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties will face tighter watering restrictions imposed Tuesday by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]