One of the most ominous phrases used by the Nazis in WWII was spotted in a park in Mile End.

The German phrase ‘Arbeit macht frei’ for ‘work will set you free’ was written on children's slide in Alphonse Telesphore Lepine Park.

The phrase greeted new arrivals at Auschwitz and other concentration camps. The signs were made of metal and the pieces were welded together by residents of the camp - most of whom were not set free but instead put to death.

At the park, there is some other writing, also in German after the main phrase, in smaller letters. It appears to say "and so work."

While the phrase would seem innocuous out of context, its use at concentration camps has forever associated it with the atrocities of the Holocaust.

After the message was discovered Wednesday, it was quickly reported to the Plateau Mont-Royal Borough.

When by 1:15 p.m., it was still there, graffiti cleaner Corey Fleischer got involved. Fleischer blasts high-pressure water on sites around the city to remove symbols of hate in a group called Erasing Hate.

B'Nai Brith said the graffiti is one of the worst anti-Semitic messages one can think of.

“Arbeit macht frei are the words that were used on top of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. These were the last symbols and words that Jews saw as they entered those camps before they were brutally murdered. This is so horrific for the Jewish community, for any Holocaust survivors that are still alive, for the families,” said Harvey Levine, B’Nai Brith’s Quebec regional director.    

The woman who first spotted the message reported it to the borough, but not to the police, as she was under the impression the borough would turn that into a formal police complaint. At this time it’s unclear if they did.

A dedicated Montreal police unit is working to solve hate crimes.

Residents who see such messages or acts are asked to call police directly.