Report: British Nazi sympathizer linked to Auschwitz sign theft
Unnamed collector allegedly offered to pay large sum of money for sign, stolen on December 18.
A wealthy British Nazi sympathizer was the impetus for last month's theft of the famous entrance sign to the historic Auschwitz death camp in Poland, the British tabloid Sunday Mirror reported Sunday.
The collector, whose name was not given, allegedly let it be known in the wider neo-Nazi scene that he was prepared to pay a large amount of money for the sign, the recent theft of which has caused a global stir.
The collector wanted it as a trophy - and used his neo-Nazi contacts to put word out he was prepared to pay huge money for it," an unnamed source in Sweden told the newspaper.
The sign, which reads "Arbeit Macht Frei" or "Work Sets You Free" hung over the entrance to the death camp, which operated during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II. It was stolen on December 18.
A Polish man, identified as Marcin A, has been remanded to three months of pre-trial custody, on charges of organizing the theft. The four men who allegedly performed the actual theft are being held for the same period as they await trial. If found guilty, they could face prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Polish police announced the recovery of the sign on December 20. It had been defaced and cut into three pieces, allegedly in preparation for shipment to a buyer.
The Sunday Mirror quoted the source as saying the plan had been to ship the sign to a group of Swedish neo-Nazis, who would keep it in a cellar in Stockholm until they could transfer it to the British collector.
The paper reported that, had the sale gone through, the money would have been used to fund neo-Nazi projects in Sweden, including possible plans to disrupt elections scheduled for this year.
According to the report, the thieves panicked at the amount of attention their theft had caused, fleeing the Baltic port of Gdansk and dumping the sign in nearby woods. The paper reported it was retrieved after a tip from a Swedish middleman.
The paper reported that a police search continues for "a European mastermind" behind the crime.