Friday, December 18, 2009

Signs, signs.

A group of "someones" has apparently stolen the infamous ironwork sign from the gate of the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp.

The sign lied: "Work will set you free."

This just boggles my mind. Why would anyone do this? Apparently, the screws were undone from one side of the sign and it was ripped from the moorings on the other. Due to the size and weight of the sign, it's obviously the work of a group of conspirators.

Who would want this? Neo-Nazis? What good does it do them? Holocaust survivors are probably unlikely. Art collectors? What does this fetch on the art black market? And isn't it a little big and obvious to hide even in a private art collection?

I actually felt a little sick reading about this. It is an afront to everyone of goodwill, not just Holocaust survivors or Jews in general. This is a piece of humanity's cultural heritage -- admittedly, it's a dark piece, but it reminds us all how low our species can sink. I don't go around thinking about Auschwitz or the Holocaust every moment of every day, but it's part of my back brain; and it informs my opinions about grave matters. I recognize the importance of keeping these reminders around for future generations to ponder -- so it will become part of their back brains and inform how they think and act. Hopefully for the better.

Coincidentally, the sign greeting visitors to my hometown was stolen a few months back right off of main street. I wouldn't necessarily equate the two in terms of gravitas, but as I drove by the temporary sign this evening (It reads "Our Town Wants Our Sign Back!"), I thought the two incidents had an eerie similarity in some respects: The thefts are both senseless. Neither sign could possibly mean as much to the individuals who took them as they do to the public at large. Both involved planning and logistics unlikely to have occurred quickly over beer and drawn up on cocktail napkins. Both make you scratch your head and ask, "Why?"

So, from my little corner of the interTubes, let me raise my voice and say this to the douchebags who took the Auschwitz sign, "Humanity wants Our Sign Back!"

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