Tag Archives: Arbeit Macht Frei

A Declaration of War

By Symi Rom-Rymer

Well, the mystery is solved…sort of.  The infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign stolen from Auschwitz on December 18 has been recovered on the other side of the country from where it was taken.  At this point, the Polish police are refusing to comment on the circumstances surrounding the theft or on its motivation, although five men have been detained.  But what has been most striking throughout this whole incident is the wild rhetoric that erupted in its wake.  The comment that really got my attention, was one made by Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem (Israel’s memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust) the day the sign was reported missing.  According to reports by the BBC, he called the theft “a true declaration of war.”

To which I say:  Mr. Shalev, please explain yourself.  What does “a true declaration of war” mean?  Who is Israel now at war with? With all of Poland?  With Polish neo-Nazis (the presumed perpetrators)? With the thieves themselves? With anti-Semitism?  And is it all of Israel that is now at war with one or all of these groups or is it just Yad Vashem?  Or are Jews around the world at war?    Will you become ‘an Army of one’? Or will  I be expected to grab a weapon and fight? Continue reading