Swastikas found daubed on Dutch Jewish monument to Holocaust victims
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Swastikas found daubed on Dutch Jewish monument to Holocaust victims

Authorities 'dumbfounded' by vandalism next to train station in Hoogezand, where almost all local Jews were sent to their death during WWII

A Jewish monument to Dutch Jews who perished in the Holocaust in Hoogezand, Netherlands. (Screen capture/Google Street View)
A Jewish monument to Dutch Jews who perished in the Holocaust in Hoogezand, Netherlands. (Screen capture/Google Street View)

A monument to Dutch Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust was found vandalized Sunday with swastikas, with local authorities “dumbfounded” over the hate crime.

Police have opened an investigation and called on the public to come forward with any information.

The vandalism occurred in the town of Hoogezand in the province of Groningen in the northeastern Netherlands, next to a railway station that was used during World War II to transport local Jews to Nazi concentration camps, where almost all perished.

Several swastikas were found spray-painted on the monument on Sunday morning, according to Dutch TV broadcaster NOS.

“I am dumbfounded that such an action can occur in our municipality, or anywhere else,” said Rein Munniksma, mayor of the Midden-Groningen municipality, according to the NL Times website. “It is really incomprehensible that swastikas are drawn on a Jewish monument.”

Hanna Luden, director of the Dutch Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, said the act was difficult to grasp.

“The entire Jewish community in Hoogezand was wiped out, and then someone does something like that. You just can’t understand it,” she was quoted as saying in Dutch media.

Another writing found daubed on the Jewish monument appeared to spell the word “Pegida” — a German far-right, mostly anti-Muslim, organization.

But Pegida’s local branch leader, Edwin Wagensveld, denied any connection and accused the perpetrators of “abusing” the group’s name, telling the broadcaster: “This is really a scandalous action and we dissociate ourselves from this behavior.”

Authorities attempted to erase the graffiti, but were said to have failed since the monument’s material is old and weathered. The swastikas are less pronounced, but still visible, according to the reports.

The Hoogezand Jewish community was founded in the early 18th century. Over the years it maintained an active Jewish community, with a synagogue, and in 1930 it numbered some 230 people. All but several of them died in the Holocaust, with the community never being rebuilt and the synagogue sold and razed shortly after the war ended.

The monument is now the last remnant of the town’s Jewish history.

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