WARSAW — Polish prosecutors filed charges yesterday against a Swede with neo-Nazi ties and two Poles acting for profit and said all three had confessed to the brazen theft of the notorious “Arbeit Macht Frei’’ sign from the gates of the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp last year.
They also said a second Swede, whose name was not released, is suspected of masterminding the theft and that investigators in Sweden will work to shed light on his role.
Prosecutors said the three had pleaded guilty and agreed to prison terms of about 2 1/2 years each. It is up to a court to decide whether to accept the plea bargains and sentence them immediately, a step considered likely.
The sign bearing the notorious Nazi slogan “Work Makes You Free’’ was stolen in December. Holocaust survivors and others were outraged, viewing it as a desecration of the memory of the more than 1 million people killed at the Nazi death camp during World War II.
A massive police hunt resulted in the discovery three days after the theft of the sign in a snowy wood. It had been cut into three pieces for transport.
Hnatko said the Polish suspects were motivated by financial gain, each earning $1,680 to $3,370 for their roles.
Three other Poles confessed earlier and are serving sentences of up to 2 1/2 years.