Dec. 10, 2003
Jewish cemetery at Auschwitz vandalized
By JENNY HAZAN AND AMIR MIZROCH
Vandals wrecked sixteen tombstones at the Jewish cemetery at Auschwitz, the local Jewish cultural center said on Wednesday.
Days before, someone painted two large swastikas on the cemetery's wall, which municipal police quickly removed, the center told Reuters news agency.
"It's difficult to say who did it. This cemetery is frequented usually once or twice a day. We noticed the desecration on Wednesday," said Artur Szyndler of the Jewish Centre in Oswiecim, known as Auschwitz in German.
In Jerusalem, Minister-without-Portfolio Natan Sharansky, responsible for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, has condemned the vandalism.
"Those who have damaged the cemetery at Auschwitz intended to hurt the sacred memory of the Holocaust. This is in reality a shocking demonstration of the incendiary hatred on the extreme fringes of Europe, a hatred which threatens not only the Jewish people but the entire world."
The cemetery was established more than two centuries ago by the then-vibrant Jewish community in the southern Polish town.
Menahwile, Nazi slogans, swastikas and SS marks were sprayed with red paint on four gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in Achim, 20 km east of Bremen in north Germany on Sunday night.
On December 1 the Babi Yar memorial, consisting of a large menora, two large stones, and a plaque donated by President Moshe Katsav in January 2001, had been overturned and partially broken by vandals.
In early November, vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in the western Slovak city of Puchov. They overturned 22 tombstones, out of which six broke into several pieces. It was the second desecration of a Jewish cemetery in the western Slovak region of Trencin in two weeks. The first occurred at a Jewish cemetery in Nove Mesto nad Vahom in October.
On November 11, vandals desecrated the tombstones marking the graves of 15 Jewish girls who died in a Nazi concentration cap near Trutnov, 120 kilometers northeast of Prague.
On November 27, vandals desecrated tombs at a Jewish cemetery in southern France, carving swastikas and other Nazi symbols into the headstones. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin condemned the attack in Marseille as a 'hateful manifestation of anti- Semitism.'
In October, Forty-two headstones in a Jewish cemetery near Gundesberg in central Germany were sprayed with Nazi sayings and swastikas. And a memorial to the victims of a World War II-era concentration camp near the northeastern city of Ravensbrueck was sprayed with far right and anti- Semitic graffiti.
In August, Fifty-six graves were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in the central German city of Kassel. Some gravestones were overturned, while other graves had headstones weighing up to 900 kilograms dropped on them.
Also in August, some 20 Jewish tombstones were vandalized and smashed at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester. Overall damage was estimated at 40,000. The attack marked the third time this year that a Jewish cemetery in Britain has been desecrated.
In September 1939 the Germans burnt the synagogue in the town of Oswiecim. In 1940 Heinrich Himmler ordered that a concentration camp be opened in the suburbs of the city.
The name of the city of Oswiecim was changed to Auschwitz, which became the name of the camp as well.
More than 1.5 million Jews and tens of thousands of others were killed at Auschwitz and Birkenau, about 50 miles west of the Polish capital of Krakow.
In October 1941 construction of the first segment of Birkenau Concentration Camp began. In January 1945 the Germans liquidated the camp, dynamiting the Birkenau gas chambers and crematoria and setting fire to the barracks where victims' property was stored. In January 1945, the last prisoner column left the camp and the Soviet Army entered the town of Oswiecim.
Difficult to say who did it?
How about peaceful Muslims or neo Nazis.