(photo credit: kkl)
Polish police said overnight Sunday that they found the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign that was stolen on Friday from the gate of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz gate.
Police spokeswoman Katarzyna Padlo said that police also detained five young men and were planning to question them.
Padlo said the sign which symbolizes to the world the atrocities and cruelty of Nazi Germany had been cut into three pieces.
Poland offered a reward of about $39,000 for any information leading to the return of the infamous iron sign from the gate of the memorial site at the Auschwitz death camp, which was stolen Friday, Reuters reported Saturday.
The Polish government on Saturday tightened security at border crossings as searches intensified for sign which carries the phrase "Arbeit Macht Frei" - German for "Work Sets You Free."
Polish Interior Ministry spokeswoman Wioletta Paprocka said on Saturday afternoon that border guards at Poland's eastern border with Ukraine and Belarus - which is also the European Union's eastern frontier - stepped up checks of goods out of Poland in efforts to locate the sign. Checks have also been tightened at airports.
Interior Minister Jerzy Miller ordered police to increase vigilance and question all possible witnesses and suspects in a nationwide effort to find the sign that stands as one of Nazi Germany's most chilling symbols.
Lawmakers, officials and Holocaust survivors expressed their profound shock and outrage on Friday after thieves made away with the sign.
Police spokeswoman Katarzyna Padlo said police believe it was stolen between 3:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. Friday morning, when museum guards noticed that it was missing and alerted police.
Padlo also said that the iron sign, which spanned a gate at the main entrance to the former Nazi death camp in southern Poland, was removed by being unscrewed on one side and pulled off on the other.
Police deployed 50 investigators and a search dog to the Auschwitz grounds, where barracks, watchtowers and ruins of gas chambers still stand as testament to the atrocities inflicted by Nazi Germany.