As Europe marked the 81 anniversary of Kristallnacht and Remembrance Day, which commemorates the end of World War I, antisemitic incidents were rampant over the weekend.
On Sunday morning, residents of Canvey Island in southern England woke up to multiple cars and garages spray-painted with antisemitic graffiti, including “Jews out,” and swastikas, all painted in red.
There were at least eight graffiti attacks between Ferrymead, Lincoln Way and Southwalter in Canvey Island.
Police confirmed on Sunday evening that they were treating the incident as a hate crime, and that investigations are under way.
Police spokeswoman Sergeant Victoria Jarvis said it was an “incredibly sad day for Canvey Island. This community has welcomed people of all backgrounds, races and religions, and for someone to publicly declare hatred of certain members of society, and damage property in doing so, is unacceptable.”
Jarvis said that local police have been working closely with local residents to raise awareness of hate crime, gather information, and have a visible presence maintained in the area to deter any further criminal activity.
On Friday evening, the Middle Street synagogue in Brighton was also vandalized with red paint just prior to the Kristallnacht anniversary on Saturday.
In Germany on Saturday, neo-Nazis gathered in both Berlin and western city of Bielefeld.
In Berlin, some 150 neo-Nazis from a far-right organization claimed that “Zionists rule Germany” and “Hitler was only a ‘contractor’ of Kristallnacht.”
In response to the antisemitic march, several hundred people counter-protested loudly against the group and their comments, the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Antisemitism reported.
In the second event in Bielefeld on Saturday, 230 neo-Nazis gathered to protest the incarceration of 91-year-old Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck. This is the fourth time she has been imprisoned for Holocaust denial.
However, to counter the protest, nearly 15,000 people gathered and marched through the streets in solidarity against the neo-Nazis. They also formed a human chain around Bielefeld’s synagogue and held a vigil there as well, according to Deutsch Weller.
The counter protesters also slammed local officials for allowing the neo-Nazi demonstration to take place.
Stumbling blocks in Leipzig that commemorate Kristallnacht were also vandalized on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in several Scandanavian countries, Jewish communities were left shocked as they awakened on Saturday to find that yellow “Jude” badges, which the Nazis made Jews wear during the Holocaust, stuck onto Jewish buildings and several Jewish homes.
The night before, at least 80 Jewish graves were desecrated at the Ostre Kirkegard cemetery in the town of Randers in western Denmark.
Chabad Copenhagen director Rochel Yitzi Loewenthal took to Facebook to express her shock over the incidents in Denmark.
She explained how Kristallnacht “is a sad day in Jewish history. “Unfortunately, this year in Denmark, we were able to see that antisemitism still rears its ugly head, with three acts of vandalism. Unfortunately, even in peaceful Denmark, this ugliness exists.”
Loewenthal thanked authorities for “taking this and other threats seriously,” but asked: “What can we do? There is a well-known saying, fight darkness – with light. So whilst they may increase their efforts in spreading darkness and hate, we should respond by spreading light, goodness, happiness and positive things. Every mitzvah helps increase light in this world, so let us increase light and banish the darkness. Let us be proud of who we are and stand tall and strong,” concluding with the phrase: “Am Yisrael Chai!”
World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder condemned these heinous acts.
“It is no longer possible for anybody, Jew or non-Jew alike, to be shocked by the callous reminders unleashed against our communities in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe this past Shabbat that antisemitism is alive and well, and right at our doorsteps,” he said in a statement. “The writing has been on the wall for years, and today, 81 years nearly to the date of Kristallnacht, it continues to blaze strongly. The time has come for deliberate and targeted action – Europe must wake up and protect its Jewish citizens.”
Lauder added that “Jewish institutions, including synagogues and centers, must have police protection.”
JTA contributed to this report.