Gardaí are investigating the placement of a Nazi slogan over the entrance to a Cork social welfare office as 'potential incitement of hatred.'
The Department of Social Protection said it removed the “extremely offensive sign” from the office on Hannover Street in Cork city as soon as it became aware of it.
It said it was placed outside the office by “unknown persons” and confirmed that it had reported the matter to Gardaí.
The sign reading ‘Job Path Macht Frei’ referenced the Nazi holocaust slogan "Arbeit macht frei."
The slogan, which translates as ‘work will set you free,’ appeared over a number of Nazi concentration camps during the holocaust.
The lettering mirrored that of the sign placed over the Auschwitz camp in Poland.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 18, 2019
This afternoon, Gardaí appealed for anyone with any information about the incident to contact them.
They confirmed that it is being investigated as potential “incitement of hatred.”
A spokesperson said the recently introduced Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy had a “significant focus on enhancing the identification, reporting, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.”
The force introduced a new working definition of a 'hate crime' as part of the strategy.
The definition reads: "Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender."
.@welfare_ie "Arbeit macht frei" was a false, cynical illusion the SS gave to prisoners of the #Auschwitz camp. Those words became one of the icons of human hatred hate. It's painful to see this symbol 'interpreted' over '#Cork Employment Services Office'. Please remove it. pic.twitter.com/MaXZUCtseT
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 17, 2019
After images of the sign were shared online yesterday, the Auschwitz Memorial warned that the slogan had become “one of the icons of human hatred hate” and called for it to be immediately removed.
After the Department of Welfare confirmed that it was placed there without its knowledge, the memorial welcomed its “very quick and clear reaction when the sad incident was noticed.”