'Military' pub criticised by Auschwitz Memorial for 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign

The Auschwitz Memorial has criticised a Finnish ‘military pub’ for bearing an iron sign that reads: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’.

The German phrase, which translates to ‘work will set you free’, was written above the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where around 1,100,000 people were killed by the Nazis.

It was intended to motivate prisoners into working hard towards the false hope of future release.

Sharing a picture of the Tankki Bar, in Lappila, Kärkölä, the Auschwitz Memorial Twitter account said the sign was a ‘false, cynical illusion the SS gave to prisoners of the Auschwitz camp’.

They added: ‘Those words became one of the icons of human hatred. It’s painful to see the symbol misused this way.’

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was opened in Poland in 1940, just one year after the country was invaded by the Nazis, beginning the Second World War.

It initially served as a detention centre for political prisoners, but later became a death camp where Jewish people and other perceived enemies of the Third Reich were sent.

Prisoners were murdered, often in gas chambers, while those kept alive underwent medical experiments or were forced into slave labour.

According to local news site Seutu4, Tankki Bar’s owner Juha Koskinen has refused to take the sign down.

He said if a customer who visits the pub ‘once or twice a year’ gets upset by it, then they can ‘take their beer elsewhere’.

Juha added that ‘of course’ those who died in Auschwitz should be remembered, but was described as being unconcerned about the sign’s Nazi history.

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