The title of this blog post comes from a line in a news article, which you can read in full at http://www.dw.com/en/stolen-arbeit-macht-frei-gate-returned-to-holocaust-memorial-in-dachau/a-37665320
The following quote is from the news article:
The original wrought-iron gate carrying the infamous Nazi slogan “Arbeit macht frei” (“work sets you free”) was returned to Dachau from Norway on Wednesday.
It will be restored and publicly unveiled this April on the 72nd anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The gate will not be returned to its original location, but rather be displayed in the museum on the grounds of the former concentration camp near Munich in Bavaria that now serves as a memorial.
I have been to the former Dachau camp several times, beginning with my first visit in 1998.
I have a section on my website about the Dachau gate: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/KZDachau/Gatehouse.html
The iron gate at the entrance through the Dachau gatehouse into the prison compound is shown in my photo at the top of this page.
The sign which reads “Arbeit Macht Frei” was removed soon after the Dachau camp was liberated, but it was reconstructed in 1965 at the same time that two barrack buildings were reconstructed for visitors. One of the reconstructed barracks can be seen on the left side of my photo at the top of this page.
The slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” was allegedly coined by Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels in an effort to convince the public that the Nazi concentration camps were merely work camps designed to politically rehabilitate Communists, Social Democrats and anarchists.
This slogan was first used over the gate of a “wild camp” in the city of Oranienburg which was set up in an abandoned brewery in March 1933 during the time that the first political prisoners were being held for an indefinite period without charges in a number of places in Germany.
In 1936, the Oranienburg camp was rebuilt as the Sachsenhausen camp. The Dachau camp was also rebuilt, starting in 1936. The gatehouse at Sachsenhausen also bears this inscription, but the third major German concentration camp, Buchenwald, has a sign on the gate that reads “Jedem das Seine,” which means To Each his Own.
Dachau and Sachsenhausen were both Class I camps for offenders, who were considered capable of being rehabilitated and who were eligible for possible release.
Rudolf Höss, who trained at Dachau and then served as an adjutant at Sachsenhausen before becoming the first Commandant at Auschwitz, used this motto over the gate into the main camp, Auschwitz I, which was classified as a Class I camp for political prisoners. Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, was not a Class I camp, so Birkenau did not have this slogan over the gatehouse.
Two other Nazi concentration camps which used the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” on their gate houses were Flossenbürg and Gross-Rosen. This slogan also appeared on a gate inside the Gestapo prison in the Small Fortress at Terezin, formerly known as Theresienstadt.