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December 4, 2014 5:21 pm

Russian Refuses to Take Down Fence Resembling Entrance to Nazi Concentration Camp, Says He’s Not Anti-Semitic

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Dressed in his former concentration camp uniform, a Jewish 'Displaced Persons' child attends a memorial service in Buchenwald. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A Russian businessman denied being anti-Semitic and refused to take down a garden fence resembling the gate that surrounded the Buchenwald concentration camp, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.

Nestor Lavrov, 53, liked the design of the fence after seeing images of it online and decided to commission a similar one for himself. He claims he did not realize the photo he saw was of gates erected  in 1937 around one of the Nazi’s first concentration camps in Buchenwald, near the central German town of Weimar. Just like the historical gate, Lavrov’s fence also had the words “Jedem Das Seine,” which means “To each his own.”

“I didn’t know what the words ‘Jedem Das Seine’ meant, but I looked it up and found it meant ‘To each his own.’ I like the phrase because this is my garden and it’s for me and that’s why I used it,” he said.

Local Russian officials have declined to take action since the gate is on private property. A spokesperson for the authorities said, “He put the sign up on his own property and because he insists it is not anti-Semitic, there is nothing that can be done.”

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The phrase has been an idiomatic German expression for centuries and also appears in the title of a work by German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the Daily Mail reported. Nazis commonly erected propaganda slogans over their concentration camps and among the famous ones was “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“work makes you free”), which was placed above the gates of the Dachau and Sachsenhausen camps.

The Daily Mail noted that Lavrov is not the first to use the expression “Jedem Das Seine” and claim to not know its historical context. Several advertising campaigns in German — including ads for ExxonMobil, Nokia, Burger King and Merkur Bank — have stirred controversy after using the exact phrase or “Jedem den Seinen,” which means “each his own.”

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