Jewish cemeteries, Holocaust memorials vandalized across Germany

In recent weeks, memorial sites have been defaced in Berlin, Kropelin and Hanover

A 'stumbling block' in Heidelberg, Germany. Illustrative photo (CC-BY SA The Profitcy/Wikipedia)
A 'stumbling block' in Heidelberg, Germany. Illustrative photo (CC-BY SA The Profitcy/Wikipedia)

Acts of vandalism were reported at several German Jewish cemeteries and memorials in recent weeks.

Unidentified individuals defaced dozens of “stumbling block” memorials in the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district of Berlin, covering them with gray paint on Tuesday, according to police, who are investigating the incident.

The small, brass blocks set into sidewalks note the last dwelling place of Jews who were deported, usually to Auschwitz.

Last week, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Jewish cemetery in the town of Kropelin, near Rostock, was desecrated. On Jan. 27, unknown perpetrators knocked down six gravestones, according to a report in the Nordkurier online newspaper. Police are seeking witnesses. Vandals have targeted this cemetery several times in recent years. No perpetrators have ever been caught.

Earlier in January, a Jewish cemetery near Hanover was vandalized, according to the head of the community Michael Fürst. He told the Judische Allgemeine, Germany’s weekly Jewish newspaper that gravestones were overturned and heavy window panes in the chapel were pushed in. Fürst, who suggested the perpetrators were far-right extremists, called for better protection for the site, including video cameras or illumination at night.

Police reportedly found a cell phone on the site and are trying to determine its owner.

Preliminary statistics nationwide for 2015 — not including December —- showed 699 anti-Semitic crimes reported, including 16 violent attacks.

The vast majority of incidents and attacks were ascribed to far-right perpetrators. Thirty crimes, including three violent attacks, were ascribed to foreigners.

Vandalism of Jewish cemeteries has dropped in recent years, with 27 cases reported in 2014, down from 63 in 2008.

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