The new addition of a book, written years ago by Eugen Kogon, which is shown in the photo above, has a cover with a photo of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign over an entrance into a building in the Little Fortress at Theresienstadt.
Kogon’s book is about the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did the Buchenwald concentration camp have this sign on any of the buildings in the camp? No! This photo was taken at Theresienstadt. Only Class 1 camps had the Arbeit macht Frei slogan.
I took this same photo which you can see below.
The Buchenwald gate with its famous sign “Jedem das Seine” was designed by Franz Ehrich, a prisoner who studied with Moholy-Nagy, Klee, Kandinsky and Josef Albers at the Bauhaus in Weimar.
Ehrlich was arrested as a Communist resistance fighter in 1935 and sent to Buchenwld two years later. In 1937, the Buchenwald camp was still new and had few buildings. Ehrlich, who had worked with architect Walter Gropius in his Bauhaus Berlin office, volunteered to work in the joinery workshop at Buchenwald; he was assigned to design and build the entrance gate.
The sans-serif lettering of the words “Jedem das Seine” show Ehrlich’s training under Bauhaus typographer Joost Schmidt. After he was released from Buchenwald in 1939, Ehrlich stayed on and worked as a paid architect at the SS training camp and munitions factories at Buchenwald.
Buchenwald was a Class II camp for hard-core political prisoners, mainly Communists, who were considered to be harder to “rehabilitate.” Consequently, conditions in the Buchenwald camp were more severe than at Dachau and Sachsenhausen, which were Class I camps where many prisoners were released after being induced to accept the Nazi principles of obedience and hard work.
The sign over the iron gates at both Dachau and Sachsenhausen read “Arbeit Macht Frei” or Work Brings Freedom.