IDF Arbeit Macht Frei sign
IAF soldier standing next to a replica of the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign.
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Soldiers serving on an Israel Air Force base in southern Israel found an unusual and controversial way to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, erecting a replica of the infamous Auschwitz "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign.

Alongside the replica, the soldiers at the IAF base near Mitzpe Ramon placed lines of barbed wire, mimicking the death camp's fence. As part of the Holocaust Remembrance Day activities, the base was also visited by a Holocaust survivor who shared his story with the troops.

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In a photo circulating among Facebook users, and which can be seen here, a soldier wearing an IAF uniform is seen standing next to the replica.

Testimonies of other IDF soldiers, which were passed on to Haaretz, indicate that this was not the first time in which educational officers, especially in the IAF, arranged Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies with the aid of unusual accessories.

In the past, one testimony claimed, one of the bases brought in an empty train car, meant to represent the trains which led the Jews to the death camps during the Holocaust.

The IDF Spokesman's Unit said in response, "The sign was set up for a Holocaust Day ceremony on the base, and essentially served as the entrance to the base. The picture shows part of the ceremony's set for Holocaust Remembrance Day, in the framework of educational activity to mark the day."

"The set was taken down following the ceremony. Any attempt to take a certain part of the set and distort its meaning is baseless. Moreover, there was no intention at all to hurt the feelings of any of the participants in the ceremony."