Headstone at Jewish cemetery (illustrative)
Headstone at Jewish cemetery (illustrative) iStock

Vandals have desecrated dozens of graves in an 18th-century Jewish cemetery in northern Slovakia, local officials said on Tuesday, according to AFP.

59 gravestones including some dating back 200 years were pushed over in the town of Namestovo, the cemetery's general manager Karol Kurtulik said.

"When I discovered this, my legs went weak. It's a barbaric act," he told AFP, warning of increasing spread of anti-Semitism through "fake news and online conspiracy theories".

Local police said they had launched a criminal probe into the incident, which caused at least 50,000 euros ($ 55,700) in damages.

Kurtulik said efforts were under way to help raise funds.

"Many locals but also people from across Slovakia have contacted me offering to help," he added.

Some 105,000 Slovakian Jews, or 77 percent of the Jewish population in the country, were killed during World War II.

Only around 5,000 Jews live in Slovakia today, according to the Central Union of Jewish Communities in Bratislava.

A recent survey commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that about one in four Europeans poll harbor pernicious and pervasive attitudes toward Jews.

Earlier this month, 107 gravestones were vandalized in a cemetery in Westhoffen, west of Strasbourg in France.

Last month, gravestones in the Jewish section of a churchyard in Randers, northwestern Denmark, were vandalized with green paint and knocked over.

In October, four headstones at a disused Jewish cemetery in the United Kingdom were destroyed.