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Monument for Holocaust victims defaced with swastikas in Poland

Nazi daubings painted on memorial created by survivor Samuel Willenberg commemorating 40,000 Jews, mostly from Częstochowa, who were sent to Treblinka death camp

In this October 31, 2010 file photo, Holocaust survivor Samuel Willenberg, who created the Częstochowa memorial, displays a map of Treblinka extermination camp during an interview with the Associated Press in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)
In this October 31, 2010 file photo, Holocaust survivor Samuel Willenberg, who created the Częstochowa memorial, displays a map of Treblinka extermination camp during an interview with the Associated Press in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

A Polish monument memorializing the victims of the Częstochowa ghetto has been vandalized with Nazi symbolism and references, including swastikas, the European Jewish Congress said Tuesday.

The monument, which honors the 48,000 Jews confined to the ghetto during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland, was smeared in black graffiti.

Alongside swastikas, perpetrators wrote “SS,” the number 1488 and the names of two prominent Holocaust deniers, Jurgen Graf and Ursula Haverbeck.

The number 88 is a Neo-nazi numerical code used to mean “Heil Hitler” among white supremacists. The number 14, often used in tandem with 88, references “Fourteen Words,” a slogan put forth by David Lane, a neo-Nazi who belonged to the domestic terrorist organization The Order. Lane was convicted of — among other things — serving as an accomplice in the murder of Alan Berg, a Jewish radio talk show host.

Lane’s slogan reads: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

The memorial was created by Samuel Willenberg, a Częstochowa artist who survived the Treblinka death camp. It stands on the site of a former railway station where Nazis transported 40,000 Jews, mostly from Częstochowa, to Treblinka in September and October of 1942.

Samuel Willenberg, the last survivor of the 1943 Treblinka death camp revolt (YouTube screenshot)

It was unveiled in 2009. The memorial features a wall with a large, brutal crack in the middle, symbolizing the murder of Częstochowa Jews.

On one side of the crack, two metal parallel lines indicate train tracks, symbolizing the route to Treblinka. On the left of the crack is a Star of David, used to symbolize the endurance of the Jewish people.

The vandals painted a swastika within the Star of David.

Earlier this month, anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted on a synagogue in Belarus. In January, swastikas and SS symbols were found on a wall of  Jewish cemetery near Auschwitz. And in September, 20 tombstones were damaged in a Jewish cemetery in Southern Poland, the third incident of anti-Semitic vandalism that month.

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