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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]
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