A phrase used on the entrance sign at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp has been discovered on a chalkboard on East Slope’s building site.
The words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’, meaning ‘work sets you free’ was a common phrase found written on signs at various World War 2 concentration camps.
The Students’ Union released a statement via Twitter which read: “We, the Students’ Union Officer Team, are deeply shocked to discover the words inscribed over the entrance to Auschwitz written on a blackboard on a building site on our campus…The Student Union will not tolerate anti-semitism, or any kind of hate”.
Adam Rose, Brighton and Sussex Jewish Society President, told The Badger: “The Brighton Jewish Community is saddened to see this vile and inconsiderate display of Anti Semitism on the University campus. We like to see Sussex Uni as a safe environment for Jews and other minority groups.
“Thankfully, these issues are not common and we support each other as a community to work through them. This is the second time this month we’ve had to be contacted from anti-semitic occurrence, with the first being the comments from the former IR head”, he added.
Adam also stated on behalf of the society: “We call on the SU to find those who are responsible, and deal with them accordingly”.
A spokesperson for Balfour Beatty told The Badger: “Balfour Beatty and the University of Sussex take incidents of offensive behaviour incredibly seriously. As soon as we were informed about this blackboard, it was removed immediately.
“Inappropriate language or behaviour will not be tolerated on any of our sites. The site operates under a clear code of conduct which all employees and those who work with and for us are expected to follow. Balfour Beatty continue to investigate this matter and are in the process of briefing all staff on site.” they added.
This is one of numerous anti-semitic incidents that have occurred at Sussex. In March 2017, two weeks after Sussex’s Israel Apartheid Week, “the Holocaust was an inside job” was found written on a chalkboard art installation in Library Square.
Similarly, Sussex is currently conducting an investigation after an ex-professor of the University’s International Relations department tweeted: “Israelis blew up the Twin Towers”.
This is not just an issue specific to Sussex; an anti-Israel protest at UCL in 2016 was found by investigation to involve smaller protest groups using violence during the event. This led to a number of Jewish students being barricaded in their rooms as a safety measure.
Balfour Beatty, an international construction contractor, has completed various projects for the University. After two years bidding for the contract, in April 2017 the company reached a deal with Sussex which would see it begin construction of the £120 million East Slope accommodation project.
Those responsible for the vandalism at the construction site is yet to be found, as the University along with Balfour Beatty continue their investigation.
Photo by The Argus.