Vandals Deface Monument to French Synagogue Destroyed by Nazis

Strasbourg mayor describes act as clearly anti-Semitic, as Netanyahu calls upon 'all leaders of enlightened countries to join in denouncing it'

People pass by the memorial stone marking the site of Strasbourg's Old Synagogue, which was destroyed by the Nazis in World War II, after it was vandalized overnight on March 2, 2019 in Strasbourg, France.
FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP

A monument marking the site of a synagogue destroyed during the Nazi occupation of France was found vandalized on Saturday, authorities in the eastern city of Strasbourg said.

The marble slab on the site of the old synagogue, set on fire by Hitler Youth members in 1940 and later demolished, had been pushed off its base, photographs published by regional newspaper Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace showed.

Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries told France 3 television that it was clearly an anti-Semitic act.

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The slab "must weigh 300 or 400 kilograms," Ries said. "It wasn't pushed off by a single individual."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the "horrific, anti-Semitic" attack on Sunday, and called upon "all leaders of enlightened countries to join in denouncing it in a systematic and continuous fashion. The first way to combat anti-Semitism is to denounce, to condemn it unequivocally."

The vandalism was the latest in a string of apparently anti-Semitic incidents that have drawn condemnation from French authorities and the country's Jewish community, thought to be the biggest in Europe.

Last month, dozens of graves were painted with Nazi swastikas in a Jewish cemetery in a village near Strasbourg. Anti-Semitic vandalism was also reported in Paris.

Thousands of people rallied in central Paris to condemn anti-Semitism. President Emmanuel Macron promised a new law against online hate crime and asked Interior Minister Christophe Castaner to dissolve organizations inciting hatred and violence.

"I say once again: Enough!", Ries wrote on Facebook on Saturday after visiting the vandalized memorial in Strasbourg.