Photos of Holocaust survivors exhibited on a central Vienna street have been defaced with swastikas, drawing condemnation from political and Jewish leaders.
Broadcaster ORF reported Wednesday that ESRA, a group that brought the work by German-Italian photographer Luigi Toscano to the Austrian capital, said several photos were daubed with swastikas and other graffiti on Tuesday. The exhibition opened on part of the Ringstrasse, a busy road that runs around downtown Vienna, on May 7 and the group said some portraits were previously damaged with knives.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted that he was “dismayed by the anti-Semitic defilement” of the photos and called for a thorough investigation.
The leader of Austria’s Jewish community, Oskar Deutsch, said that “it is an anti-Semitic attack on all of Austria” and that police are investigating.
In Wien wurden Fotos von Shoah-Überlebenden geschändet. Es ist ein antisemitischer Angriff auf ganz Österreich. Die Polizei ermittelt. Vorschlag für eine Reaktion: Installation ansehen und am Sonntag eine Stimme für Menschenwürde und für Europa geben https://t.co/QhgItN0gjN pic.twitter.com/Bjcyh72pGs
— Oskar Deutsch (@DeutschOskar) May 22, 2019
Austria has seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years, as well as a surge in support for the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), which became the junior partner in Kurz’s government after elections in 2017.
The head of the FPOe, which was founded in the 1950s by former Nazis, resigned Saturday after a hidden camera sting showed him promising public contracts in return for campaign help from a fake Russian backer, a development welcomed by the head of Austria’s Jewish community.