Stolen Auschwitz Sign Not “Abomination” No. 1

English courts issuing an arrest warrant for Israel’s former Foreign Minister, then defining for its Jews who shall and shall not be one of their number. Just another week for the Jews of England.

These decisions were so short-sighted – not to say absurd, discriminatory, and even dangerous – that they don’t merit my time (though Melanie Phillips is always worth a read). And then readers of melchett mike will ask why I choose to live in Israel!

True, this blog highlights often disagreeable excesses of life here. But they are also largely comical. And I certainly wouldn’t swap them for life back in Blighty, which is proving even less ‘my’ country than I had already thought.

Then, in the early hours of Friday morning, to cap off another wonderful week for European Jewry, Auschwitz’s “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign (right) was half-inched.

Without questioning the sign’s symbolic import, some of the immediate Israeli reactions to the theft struck me as more than a little exaggerated or, at the very least, over-hasty. One of Israel’s Deputy Prime Ministers (we need two just in case one feels an irresistible urge to embezzle or to rape a member of staff), Silvan Shalom, said it was “an abominable act” that “demonstrates once again hatred and violence against Jews”, while Director of Yad Vashem (Holocaust memorial), Avner Shalev, went as far as to brand it “a true declaration of war”.

Am I alone in cringing when I hear such knee-jerk pronouncements? And if they sound extreme and ill-conceived to me, what must the average non-Jew make of them? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give a hoot what anti-Semites think about us, but why invite ridicule amongst right-thinking people who have no such propensity?

Did Shalom or Shalev even stop to consider that the sign might well have been nicked by a couple of Polish vodka louts? That would not have excused the act, of course, but it would have deeply impacted on its significance. (Indeed, early questioning of the five suspects arrested late last night suggests that they did not have racial or political motives. And I am not being wise after the event – I wrote this on Saturday.)

Still, you have to commend the efforts of the Polish police to recover the sign. They offered 5,000 zloty – equivalent to $1,700 or £1,050 – for information leading to its return. In spite of the sum not being too being too far off Poland’s GDP, there were reports of down-and-outs across southern Poland being overheard discussing whether the reward merited an afternoon off from collecting empty bottles of Żubrówka.

You’ve gotta love the Poles.

Anyway, for anyone who was more concerned about a piece of wrought iron (for which a replica already existed) than the far-reaching ramifications of last week’s Court decisions for Anglo – and, in the case of Tzipi Livni, world – Jewry, might I humbly suggest that they give their priorities a little rethink.


14 responses to “Stolen Auschwitz Sign Not “Abomination” No. 1

  1. On the nail–once again.
    They have arrested two common thieves.
    Much ado about goornisht

  2. Mike

    I forwrded this to my Mrs…give her some food for thought……don’t think it will help though

    Coming to Eilat on Motzei Shabbat…u coming down to visit me?


  3. Anthony Mammon

    Mike, you have once again hit the nail on the head… Keep it up.. As always “GREAT BLOG”

  4. Buon giorno Giordano,

    Whilst I am delighted to have an Italian reader and commenter on melchett mike – especially one whose own blog manages to seamlessly blend posts on Gilad Shalit and Auschwitz with others on footie and a lovely topless totty (do you know her?) – it may have come to your attention that this blog is in English.

    Hence, many of my readers probably haven’t got a clue what your above link is on about. Please do enlighten us, Giordano (English mistakes excused . . . though I bet you make less than Ex hasmo).


  5. Jonathan Hoffman

    If this Times editorial is anything to go by, the average right-thinking NJ took the theft very seriously too…..

  6. Very good one. I could not stop laughing about the “ true declaration of war”.

    Take Care. Everybody says “mate” over here, how funny!!!!

  7. You are reason, Mike. Maybe I’m pretending too much… I just hope that now you’re not pretending too much to me! Anyway, I don’t know if I have enough space for a complete translation, I will do my best for try to let you understand the sense of my post… And please, don’t laugh too much about my english!
    I met your blog while I was looking around on the net for a picture for my “christmas” post about Gilad Shalit (I stolen one of yours…) and I saw also this post about the theft of Auschwitz, and I thougt how it was curious and interesting too see so different reactions to the same thing between you, that live in Israel, and me. But, at the end, our reactions are really so different?
    While you were amused by the exaggerated reactions in Israel, I was astonished by the silence of Europe. I wrote, like you, that probably the thief was just a poor pathetic idiot moved by the desire to pass the rest of his life contemplating the piece of iron hidden in his cellar. But anyway Auschwitz, and that piece of iron too, perhaps are the only true symbol of a free a united Europe.
    Auschwitz is our Statue of Freedom. No other place in Europe, not even the Berlin wall, has the same suggestion. Because that written represents all in itself the stupidity, the horror and the bestiality of the totalitarism, and because through that gate, along those tracks, through the smoke of those chimneys came the redemption of the men and the women of our continent-nation. But an Europe that leaves to the only jew people the defense of the memory of the Holocaust is an Europe indifferent to itself.
    How many discussions in the past years about the common roots of Europe, jew, greek, roman, christian, umanistic, illuministic… And how many discussions about the various political-religious simbologies (the cross, the mosques…) that mark the geographic and civil topography of the continent and its changes. The search and the defense of the identity like DNA, “genetic” fact, betrayed the sense of the European history of the post-war period, and a construction of the Union, than at all it was not registered in the DNA of the political culture of the continent, but represented an unexpected outcome. An outcome possible after Auschwitz and the extreme sacrifice of the reason and the humanity, on the altar of hatred, the fanatism and the moral barbarism that Europe was having from centuries in itself. The European peace and the unit of the continent have been born from the war and from the maximum division of Europe and the European citizens begun their way of free men between the ashes of Auschwitz. That’s the reason why I think that people of Europe will not be able recognise with dignity their own roots if they do not feel hurt at the heart from the theft of the gate of Auschwitz.
    So, somehow, we wrote different things but we both tried to look at this fact from a perspective far from the common rethoric… You’re probably tired of the official reactions of Israeli government that see declarations of war everywhere (maybe it is better to see declarations of war in the absurd decisions of the english courts or in the Goldstone report), I’m tired of the indifference of Europe for its history, almost in years when a wrong idea of “root” is used against everithing is recognised like “different”.


    ps. the post with the topless girl was about the chaos of the speed limits on the italian roads. Sometimes I trie to joke a bit, but who uses to talk about italian politics knows how it’s difficult to be serious…

  8. The Prime Minister’s office has denied rumours to the effect that Natanyahu had requested the Polish government to replace the sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” – in Hebrew: HaAvodah Meshachreret – to read in Hebrew :
    HaLikud Meshachrer …

  9. Apparently, the expression “Arbeit macht frei” from the title of an 1873 novel by German philologist Lorenz Diefenbach, in which gamblers and fraudsters find the path to virtue through labor (Wikipedia) .

    Half a century later, it was adopted by the Weimar government as a slogan extolling the virtues of their policy of large-scale public works programs as a means of ending unemployment.

    I had always assumed that the slogan was a way of mocking or planting false hope in the hearts of Jewish victims, but it may have just been a continuation of this former policy.

    Either way, I see nothing sacred or holy about either the sign or the words on it. Had it been taken by Neo-Nazis I would have said that it had been returned to its rightful owners. If it was stolen by thieves and scum of the earth – maybe they deserve it no less.

    I have consistently opposed the use of the holocaust as a means of teaching Jewish identity. I disagree with mass school trips to Auschwitz and have seen no empirical, as opposed to anecdotal, evidence that they have any long-term positive effect.

    The usually articulate Avraham Reiss has sought to make light of the matter and in his tasteless posting above – a posting which in my opinion would have been better suited to his evil alter-ego “Adrian Reiss”. (Readers wanting to read more about the “Adrian-Avraham Syndrome” are referred to Twatter).

    Finally, I welcome the eloquent Giordano Masini to this excellent blog and assume from his general English style that he is somehow connected to the ExHasmo family. While visions of topless Italian girls may not be directly related to the subject of this page, they do certainly make a welcome change to those of Ellis Feigenbaum’s bottom, that has been chewed over so thoroughly of late.

    Shavua Tov and seasonal greetings to all our non-Jewish readers!

  10. I have deleted all the nastiness, which merely proved Osher correct about the “overgrown babies“.

    Really, how is the Moshiach gonna come and rescue all of us lost Tel Avivis (not before my lavatorial wish is granted please, Hashem!) when there’s so much “sinas chinam” about?

  11. Actually, for once I fully support your decision and am not particularly proud of any of the deleted postings.

    It would indeed have been a tragedy to modern English literature were any references to either topless Italian ladies or Ellis Feigenbaum’s
    frequently referenced backside to have been omitted. Here again the editor of this excellent blog has shown admirable good taste by leaving both the Italian titties and Ellis’ delightful derrière untouched.

  12. ilona@israel

    i am curious who can be that cynical and heartless to do such thing? is it question of money or its act of anti-semitism?

  13. Daniel Marks

    It’s a heartless, cynical, antisemitic, money-grabbing thing.

    By the way, the people who made it in the first place were not angels either.

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