Jewish cemetery desecrated in Polish town where Jews were tortured by Nazis

The graves were desecrated in Olkusz, Poland, the site of "Bloody Wednesday," where in 1940 Jewish men were gathered in the town square, humiliated and beaten.

By JTA
April 7, 2015 17:04
1 minute read.
Olkusz, Poland

A Jewish gravestone defaced in the town of Olkusz, Poland. (photo credit: OŚRODEK MONITOROWANIA ZACHOWAŃ RASISTOWSKICH I KSENOFOBICZNYCH (MONITORING CENTER FOR RACIST AND XEN)

Unknown individuals painted pentagrams and wrote a former Pope’s name on several Jewish tombstones they desecrated in southern Poland.

The desecration occurred recently at the Jewish cemetery of Olkusz, a town located 25 miles northwest of Krakow, according to a report released Monday on the Facebook page of the Monitoring Center for Racist and Xenophobic Behavior, a Polish nongovernmental watchdog.

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The group presented three photos of desecrated headstones on its Facebook page. One of the images showed a pentagram — a five-pointed star which is a Christian symbol sometimes associated with Satanism — painted on the a gravestone. Smashed headstones can be seen in the background.


A Jewish grave knocked over and vandalized in the Polish town of Olkusz.

In its report on the incident, the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism said dozens of headstones were destroyed in Olkusz.

Another headstone had the name Jan Pawel — the Polish name of Pope John Paul II — spray painted on it.

The Jews of Olkusz were deported to Auschwitz in 1942, and most perished there, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Two years earlier, German troops gathered all the men in the town square and murdered one of them after humiliating and beating the rest. The July 31 incident in 1940 was known locally as “Bloody Wednesday.”

The troops posed to have their pictures taken with local Jewish men including Rabbi Moshe Yitzchak Hagerman, who is seen standing barefoot while donning a prayer shawl upon which the soldiers had urinated. In the photograph, he is seen standing over at least six Jews who were forced to lie on the pavement at the feet of the smiling German troops.

Hagerman was murdered in 1942 in Majdanek.


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