Krakow Ghetto Monument Defaced by Neo-Nazi Vandals

Nazi graffiti was sprayed in red on a monument to Jewish victims of the Krakow ghetto. Embarrassed Polish officials vowed to punish the vandals.

Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 10:17

Krakow Ghetto monument defaced
Krakow Ghetto monument defaced
Israel news photo: courtesy of PAP

Polish workers spent hours this week removing graffiti spray-painted in red on a monument commemorating the Jewish victims of the Krakow ghetto during World War II. The desecration of the monument, located at the former Plaszow concentration camp near Krakow, Poland, was discovered by officials on Saturday.

The Plaszow camp was the site used in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film “Schindler’s List,” which told the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who worked to save Jews by employing them in his factory in Krakow. Spielberg’s film won seven Oscars, plus another 65 awards and 21 nominations in other competitions around the world.

“Jude Raus” (“Jews Out”) was found painted in German, and “Hitler Good!” was scrawled in English on the large stone memorial. A smaller memorial plaque was also defaced with the words “Jude Raus” and a painted Nazi swastika.

The vandalism was found the day before a March of Remembrance set for Sunday to mark the 67th anniversary of the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto. On March 13-14, 1943, the Nazis emptied the ghetto and sent some 16,000 Jews to the Plaszow concentration camp and to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “Those who did this did deserve the highest condemnation. This is something that harms Poland [and] I am personally ashamed.” Police are investigating, he added, noting that although the vandals had not yet been caught, when they are, the “offenders most likely will be charged with destruction of the monument and insulting religious feelings.”

Anti-Semitic Incidents Up
Anti-Semitic vandalism and other incidents are on the rise worldwide, and especially in Europe, according to a report by the Jewish Agency’s Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism. The report, released just before this year’s United Nations-designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said the UN-sponsored Goldstone Report on Israel’s 2009 counter-terrorist Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was at least partly to blame for the attacks.

In January 2010, the only Jewish house of worship in the Greek island of Crete - a 600-year-old edifice that had been recently restored - was torched. The same month, some 30 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in France were also vandalized.  “Juden Raus” was written on one of the tombstones, and swastikas were painted on at least 18 others, with 13 more knocked over in the Strasbourg cemetery. A report released last month indicated a sharp rise in anti-Semitism, particularly in France where a 75 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents was documented in 2009 over the year before.