The wall of a Jewish cemetery near the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland was defaced with swastikas and other Nazi symbols over the weekend, prompting local officials to condemn the vandalism and promise to take action against those responsible.
Janusz Chwierut, the mayor of Oświęcim, as the city is called in Polish, condemned the “fascist symbols” on Sunday and called on the local law enforcement authorities to find the perpetrators and prosecute them.
“Auschwitz is a place where such acts are always condemned,” wrote Chwierut in one Explanation.
“Auschwitz is also a symbol of the centuries-old coexistence of the Jewish and Christian communities, and the pre-war residents of Auschwitz are buried in the Jewish cemetery. Such actions undermine our common memory.”
According to the Auschwitz Museum, which described the incident as “painful” in one case, the symbols were quickly removed after they were found Tweet with photos of the graffiti. The cemetery is maintained by the Auschwitz Jewish Center and members of the community. The city was occupied by Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1945.
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A police officer spotted the vandalism Sunday morning, local police said in a statement to NBC News. No suspects have been identified yet. According to a police spokesman, perpetrators could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years for the combined offenses of promoting fascist content and damaging a historic monument.
This vandalism is due to an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany and hate crimes around the world. One man was injured during a Hanukkah service in Kentucky last month and two were killed in a botched attack on a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle in 2019.
“We must continue to fight against all forms of hatred,” wrote the Auschwitz Museum.