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Stolen Nazi concentration camp gate found in Norway

The wrought-iron gate was stolen two years ago from the former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, sparking domestic and international outrage. The gate bears the famous slogan "Arbeit macht frei."

"Due to an anonymous tip-off, police in Norway's Bergen have secured an iron gate with the well-known text," Bavarian state police said on Friday. "From the picture transmitted, police believe it is highly likely that this is the iron gate that was stolen from Dachau."

The stolen gate weighs around 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and bears the infamous slogan "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will set you free"), one of the most recognized symbols from the Holocaust.

The wrought-iron gate was stolen on November 2, 2014, sparking outrage at home and abroad. German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the theft as "repulsive" and said those responsible should be brought to justice as soon as possible.

Every year, some 800,000 people from around the world visit the concentration camp memorial located just a few kilometers from Munich.

Klaus Schultz, a deacon working at the evangelical Church of Reconciliation close to the memorial, said that the theft had caused alarm among concentration camp survivors and welcomed its discovery.

"Even if the background to this abominable act is not yet known, I would like to voice thanks on behalf of the International Dachau Committee (CID) for the uncovering of this crime and the international engagement after the theft of the camp's gate," General Jean Michael Thomas, the CID's president, said. "This was ultimately a desecration of an important memorial site."

It is now up to the International Dachau Committee, the site's management team and the Bavarian memorial foundation to decide what to do with the recovered gate. The gate found in Norway was an original, constructed by prisoners in camp's workshops. The lettering, however, was reconstructed in 1965. A new gate and sign was fitted only last year.

Dachau was among the first camps opened by Nazis in March 1933, less than two months after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor. It was initially used to incarcerate political prisoners but became a death camp during the World War II. More than 200,000 people from across Europe were held at Dachau and some 41,000 people were killed there, before US troops liberated it on April 29, 1945.

Another sign with the same inscription was stolen from another former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 2009. The man behind the theft, Swedish neo-Nazi Andres Hoegstroem, was caught and jailed for two-and-a-half years. The sign was recovered, found cut up into three pieces, but was restored in 2011.

dm/msh (AFP, dpa)

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