(From Ha’aretz in Israel comes the story)
Anyone want to guess? I’m pretty sure I don’t even want to know, other than to hear they’re thrown in the slammer for good. For theft? No, because of what they stole. In the years immediately after the war, it wouldn’t have surprised me (had I been alive) to learn that a group of angry Jews tore down the sign. That seems entirely logical as a response from the people who were among the primary targets of the unspeakable atrocities which went on within the walls of the famous “camp.”
But that didn’t happen. As time went on, it became clear that the Jewish people, as a whole, appeared much more intent on preserving the words and signal images (like the sign) of the Nazi regime, to show the world that yes, indeed, this really did happen, and to show just how bad it was. “Never again” became the rallying cry – and to ensure something never happens again, you need vivid reminders of that thing. Smart – and immensely even-keeled – move.
That’s why I’m 99% sure that whoever stole the Auschwitz sign at this late date is not some justifiably angry relative of a victim of the “camp’s” atrocities, but rather a thoroughly vile, latter-day racist, anti-Semite troglodyte (or group of them). Because at this point, who else would WANT such a thing? Or possibly merely want to see it removed? That’s why my visceral reaction to this was: catch these people and lock them up forever – even though the crime was only theft and vandalism: because anyone who wanted to either erase the memory of the horror of this place, or pretend it didn’t happen, or – worse – who actually wanted the sign because they approved of what went on inside those gates – will undoubtedly, if left free, do something far more horrible than simple theft or vandalism.
The realist in me says “hey, even though this is repugnant, there’s still that whole pesky ‘due process’ thingie, along with the ‘no cruel and unusual punishment’ as well.” And I must reluctantly go with this. But I got a taste of how judges must feel when they let people out onto the streets for lack of evidence, people whom they KNOW, in their bones, they’ll see again – probably for something much worse. My gut says “no trial, no clemency – just put these guys away for good.”