Holocaust monuments vandalized in Poland, Italy

(JTA) – Newly erected Holocaust monuments in Poland and Italy have been vandalized.

In Poland, a monument in Raigrod, 130 miles northeast of Warsaw, was hit last week for the second time since its unveiling in September 2014. The vandals, who have not been identified, broke off part of its surface and spray-painted expletives and a neo-Nazi symbol on what remained.

In Italy, “Extinguish your mortgage, burn your banks” was written on the Shoah Memorial of Bologna, which was inaugurated in February at a central square in a city 190 miles northwest of Rome. An anarchist symbol was also part of the graffiti.

Police were handling the case as a possible hate crime, the Corriere di Bologna daily reported Thursday.

In Poland, the monument’s stone tablet, which resembles a headstone, was shattered where it once featured a Star of David etching, according to Radio Bialystok, which reported that the attack occurred in recent days in Raigrod and was discovered Friday.

The assailants spray-painted in red offensive slogans and Odin’s cross – a white supremacist version of the Celtic cross, which consists of a square cross interlocking with or surrounded by a circle.

The Raigrod monument had been vandalized approximately half a year after its unveiling.

“The vandalization of this monument twice in 13 months is doubly painful,” said Gideon Taylor, chair of operations of The World Jewish Restitution Organization.

Beyond the damage caused by the act itself, the destruction was an attack on the memory of the genocide, he wrote in a statement Monday.

“The authorities must step forward and take serious measures to find the perpetrators and to protect this and other such monuments,” he added.

Taylor’s organization and the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland in 2002 set up the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, which erected the monument with help from the local Jewish community near a Jewish cemetery that was destroyed in World War II.

Some 750 Jews lived in Raigrod before the Holocaust, constituting a third of the town’s population. In October 1942, Polish and German police officers deported most of them to Grajewo. Four brothers from the Zuckerbraun family, all of them butchers, were killed while resisting the deportation. The rest stayed in Raigrod for six days before they were deported to the Bogusza internment camp and from there the Auschwitz and Treblinka death camps, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

Of the handful of Jews who escaped the Raigrod deportation, only one survived. The rest were caught and murdered by Poles or delivered by them to the Germans, according to Yad Vashem.

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