Notorious Auschwitz sign repaired after 2009 theft

By the Associated Press | May 18, 2011 | 7:44 AM EDT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Officials say the notorious sign stolen from the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in 2009 and cut into several pieces has been welded back together.

A statement Wednesday said many months' painstaking conservation work has been completed and the "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free) sign has almost been restored to its previous condition.

Agnieszka Zydzik-Bialek, who led the conservation work, said the sign was left in a very bad shape after the theft in December 2009. She said thieves not only cut it into pieces but also bent, twisted and crushed parts of the metal tubes.

Officials at the site in southern Poland said the original sign will probably be moved to an exhibition hall under development.

A replica of the sign presently stands in its place.