Poles send Swedish neo-Nazi Högström home to prison for Auschwitz sign theft
Today the Polish justice authorities handed the former leader of the Swedish neo-Nazis, Anders Högström, over to the Swedes. Last year Högström organized the theft of the sign reading "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will make you free") from the gate of the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Polish press agency PAP reports that Högström was sentenced in December to 32 months in prison, to be served in Sweden. Swedish police officers picked Högström up at the airport in Kraków.
The metal sign that arches over the gates to the camp was stolen on 18 December 2009. Police soon found it near the town of Toruń in the possession of one of the three men who had been hired to steal it. The sign had been cut into three parts. The Polish thieves were arrested and convicted in a separate trial from that of Högström. During the trial they confessed to everything and are currently serving sentences ranging from one and a half to two and a half years in prison. Another two people indirectly involved were sent to prison in December for two years and four months and two and a half years respectively.
Swedish police arrested Högström last February on the basis of a European arrest warrant. Several weeks later Swedish justice authorities handed him over to Poland on the condition that he would serve his sentence in Sweden.
Last November the Swedish television station STV broadcast a program in which a certain friend of Högström's claimed the former neo-Nazi leader was complaining of poor detention conditions in Poland. Högström was said to have lost 15 kg, allegedly had to treat a leg injury on his own, and allegedly had to pay for hygiene products. Polish authorities denied the allegations, saying Högström was not in any sort of need, had lost only two kilograms, and was being provided health care.
The former Nazi death camp in the southern Polish town of Oświęcim (Auschwitz) is a symbol of the atrocities committed by Hitler's Germany in occupied Europe during the Second World War. The Nazis murdered more than 1.1 million human beings there, primarily Jewish people, but also Polish people, Roma people, and Soviet prisoners of war. The Germans ordered Polish political prisoners to make the "Arbeit macht frei" sign.