Dachau infamous Nazi concentration camp gate stolen

The notorious 'Work sets you free' at the former Dachau concentration camp Image copyright AFP
Image caption With no surveillance systems at Dachau, police have appealed for witnesses

An iron gate bearing the Nazi slogan 'Arbeit Macht Frei' ('Work sets you free') has been stolen from the former Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

The theft happened overnight on Sunday at the site near Munich, police said.

Dachau was the first concentration camp set up by the Nazis in 1933. More than 40,000 died there before its liberation by US troops in 1945.

A sign with the same slogan was stolen from Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Poland in 2009 by a man with neo-Nazi ties.

There is no surveillance system at Dachau, but it is monitored by private guards.

Site officials may now review that decision, the German news agency DPA reports.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The gate, measuring two metres by one metre, was taken overnight Sunday

A blog by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial condemned the theft.

"While we do not know who is behind the theft of the sign, the theft of such a symbolic object is an offensive attack on the memory of the Holocaust," it said.

Thousands of Jews, foreigners and other groups persecuted by the Nazis were later held at Dachau - initially built to house political prisoners. Many inmates were shot or gassed, with thousands others dying through disease or overwork.

The camp is now a memorial, with hundreds of thousand of visitors each year from around the world.

The theft of a similar 'Arbeit Macht Frei' from Auschwitz in December 2009 sparked an outcry.

It was discovered cut into three pieces days later.

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