Antisemitic graffiti denying Holocaust found at Auschwitz

Vandalism ‘an outrageous attack on symbol of one of greatest tragedies in human history’

Andy Gregory
Tuesday 05 October 2021 23:42 BST
A view showing the entrance gates to Auschwitz with the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei'
A view showing the entrance gates to Auschwitz with the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei' (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Antisemitic graffiti and slogans denying the Holocaust have been found at Auschwitz.

Signs of vandalism were discovered in nine barracks at the former Nazi death camp on Tuesday, the organisation which runs the site said.

The graffiti was found at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau site, which is the largest of the 40 camps that made up the complex and was where some 90 per cent of the victims of the Second World War concentration camp died – numbering approximately a million people, most of them Jews.

Staff at the memorial and museum said in a statement that the offence “is above all, an outrageous attack on the symbol of one of the greatest tragedies in human history and an extremely painful blow to the memory of all the victims of the German Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau camp”.

Police are said to be investigating the vandalism and are analysing all available video surveillance material.

The conservators of the memorial will begin removing the vandalism “as soon as the police have compiled all the necessary documentation”, the statement said.

The spray-painted graffiti included statements in English and German, some of which were antisemitic. Two references to the Old Testament, often used by antisemites, and denial slogans drew “special attention”, the organisation said.

It added that the security measures at the site are constantly being expanded but that the organisation’s budget had suffered greatly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Securing the Birkenau site by fully enclosing it will not be possible for some time until the ownership of land between the historic camp fence and a new ring-road passes to the museum, it said.

Jewish groups have warned of a worrying rise in antisemitism across Europe in recent years, with Pope Francis most recently cautioning that anti-Jewish racism is “still lurking” on the continent following a meeting with Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who has himself been accused of stoking such sentiment for electoral gain.

Much of this antisemitism “comes from traditional quarters of the far-right, and more recently from those protesting Covid-19 restrictions”, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for Europe, Benjamin Ward suggested in May.

But he warned that some antisemites were also using “human rights abuses by the Israeli state against Palestinians as cover for hatred of Jews everywhere”.

Incidents of antisemitism in the UK rose 500 per cent during the heavy bout of conflict between Israel and Palestine earlier this year, according to the Community Service Trust monitoring group, with 116 incidents identified between 8 and 18 May.

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