Auschwitz sign stealer reportedly heading to prison

(JTA) — A Swedish neo-Nazi leader who organized the theft of the "Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from Auschwitz reportedly will spend nearly three years in prison.

Anders Hogstrom, who acted as a middleman between a neo-Nazi buyer and five Polish thieves, reportedly struck a plea bargain with Polish prosecutors on Nov. 25 in which he will serve 32 months in jail in his native Sweden, the French news service AFP reported that day.

Also Nov. 25, Polish prosecutors charged two of the five Polish men who are accused of actually stealing the sign from the front gate of Auschwitz. The Associated Press has reported that they also will accept a plea bargain.

The other three thieves each already have been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

The iron sign, which measures 16 feet across and means "work makes you free," was stolen from the former Nazi concentration camp on Dec. 18, 2009 and recovered across the country 72 hours later. It was found cut into three pieces.

Hogstrom, who was arrested in February in Stockholm and extradited to Poland in April, founded the National Socialist Front, a Swedish neo-Nazi movement, in 1994. He could have faced 10 years in prison on the charges. It is not known whether the Polish court in Krakow will accept the terms of the plea bargain.

 

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