Warsaw: Polish police have recovered the metal sign that hung over the entrance to the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz and detained five suspects over the theft that sparked worldwide condemnation, state television said on Monday.
The sign, which read "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free"), had been cut into three pieces after being stolen on Friday, said the television.
The five detained men, whose ages ranged from 20 to 39, were being transported to a police station in the southern city of Krakow, the television said.
Police were not immediately available for comment on the television report and the motives for the theft remained unclear.
Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the Nazi death camp located in southern Poland during World War Two. Prisoners arriving at the camp used to enter via a relatively small iron gate topped by the German-language motto.
More than 200 hectares (500 acres) of the former death camp became a museum after the war ended.
The wording of the sign became a symbol of the Nazis' efforts to deceive their victims into a false sense of security before murdering them.
Polish authorities made the recovery of the sign a priority and the museum, police and anonymous donors offered a reward of nearly USD 40,000 for information leading to its return.
First Published: Monday, December 21, 2009, 08:21