Guard sacked

The enduring symbol of Nazi World War II atrocities was found cut into three pieces two days after its theft following an intense police hunt.

"Our conservation experts will now examine it to determine how to restore it," Bartyzel said.

"Only after that will the museum management and the International Auschwitz Committee decide whether or not to put it back in place."

The museum said the sign had been stolen due to "human error" and that the security guard on duty at the time of the theft had been dismissed. 

Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a museum spokesman, said: "We found that the fault was human error.

"The head of the security team on service at the time of the incident has been dismissed.

"The guard waited too long before alerting the commander-in-chief of the security service and the police."

Two other security guards who were suspended after the theft have returned to work, he said.

A Swedish former neo-Nazi has also been indicted in connection with the theft.

The sign has long symbolised the horror of the camp where about 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, fell victim to the Nazi genocide.

The camp, which was created by the Nazis in occupied Poland in 1940, was in operation until Soviet troops liberated it in 1945.