UPDATED: Nazi Slogan 'Arbeit Macht Frei' Found at Packard Plant in Detroit

“I found it disturbing,” Huntington Woods resident David Schulman said. “It’s a form of hate speech.”

Noon, Feb. 6: "i killed it."

That was the simple message posted Tuesday night on the dETROITfUNK.com Facebook page in reference to the Nazi slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” that recently cropped up in big red letters at the Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit.

Randy Wilcox of Harper Woods, who runs the photo blog, along with another man whose name was not given, removed the sign Tuesday, deadlinedetroit.com reports.

"I didn't want this image of this sign to go nationwide or international, because it is that kind of thing that they would report on in Russia, Saudi Arabia. ... Germany. Israel. I decided to publish my photos and talk about taking the sign down to steal thunder away from whoever did it, and turn the control back around to our side," Wilcox told the news website. "Now it is a story about some guy getting rid of a massively inappropriate sign. That is better than everyone gawking at the sign for weeks, and filling the Flickr pages with photos of it."

Tuesday: An iconic slogan used at Auschwitz and other concentration camps during the Holocaust has been put up in large red letters at the Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit.

The German words “Arbeit Macht Frei” – “Work Will Make You Free” – could be seen Tuesday on an overpass at the vacant, crumbling plant's entrance, according to the Detroit Free Press.

It is unclear who put the slogan up, The Detroit News reports.

Jewish prisoners entering the infamous Nazi concentration camp in Poland during World War II saw the slogan as they passed through a metal gate in which the words were wrought.

“I found it disturbing,” Huntington Woods resident David Schulman, who saw the sign while driving home last week from Belle Isle, told the Free Press.

“It’s a form of hate speech,” the newspaper quoted Schulman, whose grandmother had family members killed in the Holocaust, as saying.

The sign at the Packard plant is wrong on multiple levels, said Stephen Goldman, executive director of the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills.

It is a cruel reminder for Metro Detroit's population of Holocaust survivors, which is among the largest in the country, he said.

"Holocaust survivors, when they saw this, had been tricked by Nazis to believe they were going to slave labor," he said. "Really, they were either going directly to their deaths or eventually being worked to death."

If the sign is intended to be an artistic statement on labor issues that equates working in an auto plant to working as a slave in a Nazi concentration camp, it fails to communicate an accurate message, Goldman said.

"On a historical level, it criticizes an industry that has come back so well. I would find it offensive as an automotive executive," he said. "... It's a cruel irony and I don't think it adds to the dialogue, which is what art is supposed to do.

"I think it's more ignorant than sinister," Goldman said.


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