WARSAW, Poland – Police and prosecutors in southern Poland are investigating graffiti in English and German that appeared on several buildings at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, the site of the former Nazi extermination camp.
A security guard found the graffiti on Tuesday on nine wooden barracks in an area where there is no video surveillance, police said. Police said they were looking for the person or persons responsible for the destruction of a historical object, a crime that carries a prison sentence of up to eight years.
Museum officials labeled some of the graffiti as anti-Semitic and resounding phrases used by Holocaust deniers. You have asked witnesses to assist with the investigation.
Officials at the museum and the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem condemned the vandalism as an affront to the memory of the 1.1 million people believed to have died in Auschwitz-Birkenau that Nazi Germans waged in occupied Poland in 1940-1945.
“This incident at such a significant and significant site of the atrocities of the Holocaust represents an attack not only on the memory of the victims, but also on the survivors and every person of conscience,” said Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan in a statement Wednesday.
“It is also another painful reminder that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the Holocaust and educate the public and the younger generation about the dangers of anti-Semitism and the denial and distortion of the Holocaust,” said Dayan.
Around 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, but also Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and others, died in the gas chambers or of starvation, illness and forced labor in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The site was converted into a museum and memorial shortly after the end of World War II. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, it had more than 2 million visitors.