Vandals have desecrated Jewish and Muslim cemeteries in the Czech Republic and Austria recently.
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Meanwhile, two Jewish cemeteries in Poland renovated with funding provided by Germany were rededicated.
In Hohenems, located in western Austria near the border with Switzerland, a Jewish cemetery and a Muslim cemetery were desecrated with racist slogans and Nazi swastikas.
The vandalism on several headstones at the cemeteries occurred on Sunday, according to a report Monday on the news website vol.at. Police have no suspects.
Police linked the incidents to xenophobic graffiti that appeared on eight buildings in Hohenems earlier this month. Some of the symbols were drawn on a center for refugees from the Middle East.
Meanwhile, several memorial cobblestones – metal blocks installed in front of the former residences of Jewish Holocaust victims – were removed from the former Jewish Quarter of Hohenems, the news website reported.
According to the Jewish Museum of Hohenems, the Alpine town’s Jewish community had existed for over three centuries until its destruction by the Nazis.
In the Czech Republic, some 20 tombstones were knocked over at a Jewish cemetery in the town of Safov, about 120 miles southeast of Prague, the local media reported. The vandalism was discovered earlier this month. The estimated cost of the damage is about $2,500, according to Jaroslav Klenovsky of the Brno Jewish community, which administers the site.
“Over the last three years, we have erected all the tombstones that were lying on the ground. But when I visited the cemetery earlier this month, I found that around 20 of them had been damaged and knocked over,” Klenovsky told the Znojemsky denik newspaper, adding that he had filed a criminal complaint with the police over the incident.
There are no suspects.
The mayor of Safov, Milan Kubes, expressed doubt that the vandalism was motivated by anti-Semitism. “I think it must have been done by some teenagers who did not realize what they were doing,” Kubes told the newspaper.
The cemetery in Safov was established in the 17th century and is now a registered cultural monument. It has about 950 gravestones, the oldest from 1720. The cemetery was destroyed by the Nazis on the eve of World War II.
Rededication in Poland
In Poland, the rededication, or spiritual renewal of two Jewish cemeteries was held last week in the southeastern towns of Jozefow Bilgorajski and Frampol. Both cemeteries were destroyed during World War II.
The cemetery in Jozefow Bilgorajski was founded in 1725 and the one in Frampol in the 19th century.
“The historical significance is the fact that these are the first two Jewish cemeteries in Poland renovated with funds from the German Federal Government,” Monika Krawczyk, director general of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage, told JTA. “We managed to achieve this goal 76 years since the outbreak of World War II.”
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, the European Initiative of Cleaning Up of the Jewish Cemeteries, and the municipal offices of Jozefow Bilgorajski and Frampol organized the ceremonies.