WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Vandals have desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Poland, spraying swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on tombstones and memorial plaques, an official said Monday.
The vandals also wrote “This is Poland, not Israel” on one sign at the Jewish cemetery in Wysokie Mazowieckie, a town in eastern Poland, according to the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.
Police are investigating the attack, which occurred Sunday night in a town that has tried to preserve the memory of the Jews who once lived there. The cemetery, which was restored six years ago, is not fully fenced in and it was the first time vandals attacked it, said Michael Traison, an American lawyer who has raised funds to restore the cemetery.
“The people of Wysokie Mazowieckie have supported their Jewish heritage,” Traison said. “Those of us who are the guardians of the cemetery know that the vandalism is an isolated example which is the antithesis of what Poles and Poland are today.”
Poland was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community in Europe before it was nearly wiped out by Nazi Germany in the Holocaust. Today the Jewish community in Poland is tiny.
While anti-Semitic slogans crop up sometimes in graffiti or in the chants of soccer fans, physical violence against Jews is extremely rare.