I read in the news here that the neighbors of a Dutch businessman were threatening to sue him if he erected a gate on his property with the phrase “Jedem das Seine” on it.
Jack Bakker, a Dutch businessman and art collector, had made plans to erect a gate in the municipality of Zandvoort. But last year the municipality said it would prevent the construction of an early design of the gate following protests by CIDI, the Dutch watchdog on anti-Semitism. The municipality said it would not authorize construction because it violated building regulations.
The phrase “Jedem das Seine,” which is on the gate into the former Buchenwald concentration camp, means “to each his own,” but it has the connotation of “everyone gets what he deserves.” Buchenwald was the only concentration camp to have this sign on the gate into the camp, AFAIK.
Buchenwald was a Class II camp, which meant that prisoners in the camp had a slim chance of being released. Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Gross Rosen, Flossenbürg, and the Auschwitz I camp were Class I camps, which had the slogan “Arbeit macht Frei” on the gate, meaning that the prisoners had a good chance of being released. Mauthausen was the only Class III camp, which had no sign on the gate; prisoners at Mauthausen were classified “Return unwanted” meaning that they had no chance of being released.
The phrase “Arbeit macht Frei” has now been claimed by the Jews as an icon of the Holocaust. The claim is made that this slogan was used on the Class I camps to taunt the Jews because they had no chance of being released, even if they worked hard. The Class I camps which had this sign were mostly populated by political prisoners who were non-Jews. The “death camps” for the Jews, such as Majdanek and Auschwitz II, did not have an “Arbeit macht Frei” sign.
Gross Rosen was the camp to which the Jews, who didn’t get on Schindler’s List, were sent. It was a Class I camp, not a “death camp.”
This quote is from the news article, cited above:
The early design by the Belgian designer Job Smeets featured two smoking chimneys that function as pillars and barbed wire — an apparent reference to Nazi crematoria — and included a translation of the German writing on the gates of Buchenwald: Jedem das Seine (“to each his own”).
“We thought that, fortunately, it was over but now it again seems like this gate is being built,” Wim Post, a neighbor of Bakker, told the RTV crew. “In a museum, people chose whether to see it, but we are confronted with it and we don’t want it.”
Eefje van Bommel, Bakker’s lawyer, told the Dutch daily that the Buchenwald text never made into the final design.
“The gate is being branded for no reasons,” she said, adding that the municipality’s decision not to authorize the gate violated her client’s rights.
Bakker told the Dutch paper Haarlems Dagblad this month through his lawyer of his plans to build the gate, the Dutch daily reported.
His original plans became known last year when he hired Smeets to work on the gate.
So now we find out that using the phrase Jedem das Seine is anti-Semitic?
Buchenwald was not specifically a camp for Jews; the Jews were “transported to the East,” and political prisoners were sent to Buchenwald. Near the end of World War II, the survivors of the three Auschwitz camps were sent to Germany; some of the Jews were sent to the Buchenwald camp.