The sign before theft
Photo: AP
Damaged sign retrieved
Photo: AP
Stolen Auschwitz sign to return to museum
Polish official says police to hand damaged 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign over to museum Thursday. Conservation experts to determine how best to repair it

A Polish official says the famous Nazi sign stolen from the former Auschwitz death camp is being returned to the museum there a month after its theft and swift recovery.


Auschwitz spokesman Pawel Sawicki said police will hand over the badly damaged "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign to the Auschwitz museum on Thursday. Conservation experts will then determine how best to repair it.


Five Poles are under arrest after confessing to taking part in the December 18 theft of the sign with the Nazi slogan "work sets you free" in German.


The enduring symbol of Nazi World War II atrocities was found cut into three pieces after an intense police hunt. Sawicki said authorities are debating whether to return to the sign to its original place or to keep a replica there instead.


Earlier this month, it was reported that Polish prosecutors want to question two people in Sweden who they believe orchestrated the theft.


"We have asked Sweden to confirm the personal data of two people we suspect of participating in this crime and we want to question a third person from Sweden as well, but this person has no direct link with the case," prosecutor Artur Wrona said.


Prosecutors have already said the five detainees are petty criminals who acted on orders from somebody outside Poland.


"One (of the two sought) is the mastermind behind this theft and the other is the one who brought the car to Poland which later served during the robbery," Wrona told a televised news conference in the southern Polish city of Krakow on Wednesday.


"Our next steps depend on Sweden's response, but we believe we have enough evidence to be able to press a charge of incitement to theft against at least one of these people and perhaps against both," Wrona added.


Poland may issue a European arrest warrant for the two people concerned, Wrona said, but he denied media speculation that they might be linked to neo-Nazi organizations.


Reuters contributed to this report


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