The Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania was defaced with a swastika during Rosh Hashanah, reported the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJB).
The LJB, which is an affiliate of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), said in a statement that the swastika was discovered by employees of a German law firm. It was immediately removed. However, shortly after it was back again, leading the LJB to speculate that the vandal was monitoring the location.
Photos of the vandalism at the cemetery, located in the Šnipiškės neighborhood of Vilnius, show that the Nazi symbol was drawn on a sign that called for “respect for the place of eternal rest of the Jewish people.”
The LJB said that it was unfortunate that the police who investigated the vandalism did not know how to properly evaluate the scene for a hate crime. Photos of the swastika graffiti had to be taken by the LJB for evidence.
They added that the violation of the Jewish cemetery was not specific to that one incident but demonstrated a clear picture of the “state’s disrespectful approach to Jewish monuments in Šnipiškės.”
They noted that the lack of care given to old Jewish cemeteries, including “indifference to the remaining Jewish community and insufficient pursuit of education” appears to be “directly correlated with the actions of certain inadequate citizens of Vilnius, such as the situation on the first day of the Jewish year.”
The lack of respect given to Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania has been an ongoing issue for the country's Jewish community.
In May 2020, hundreds of chairs with fake money on them were placed atop what used to be a Jewish cemetery in Vilnius by tourism groups protesting delays in plans to build a conference center on the grounds.
The planned conference center was cancelled a year later, with the government stating that the pandemic “has changed the conference tourism market and environment.”