gdansk cemetery vandalism 248.88.
(photo credit: Michael Freund)
Unidentified vandals spray painted anti-Semitic slogans at the entrance to the Jewish cemetery in Gdansk, prompting local police to launch an investigation.
The phrase "Jews to the ovens - that is your place" was written on the sign at the main entryway to the burial grounds, which contains graves dating back to the mid-19th century.
"Unfortunately, from time to time we have acts of anti-Semitism here in Gdansk," Michal Samet, president of the local Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post. "But the police cooperate with us very well and they try really hard," he said.
The cemetery suffered extensive damage during the Holocaust and Samet noted that for many years it had been used by locals as a park or a place to walk their dogs, until it was fenced off and signs were put up.
In recent years, the cemetery has been vandalized on more than half a dozen occasions, with tombstones desecrated and parts of the fence torn down.
Approximately 100 people are currently registered as official members of Gdansk's Jewish community, Samet said, though many more are believed to live in the area, either unaware of their heritage or afraid to reveal it.
With its limited resources, the community does its best to maintain the cemetery and protect it, and plans to cut the grass and clean the site this week in advance of the Rosh Hashana holiday.
"We hope one day people will get used to the idea that this is a holy place and treat it accordingly," Samet said.