Jewish memorial in Poland defaced with swastika

Bialystok

Bialystok

A Jewish cemetery in eastern Poland has been vandalised just weeks after survivors groups urged the Polish authorities to take action against the rising tide of anti-Jewish sentiment.

The Bialystok memorial was targeted over the weekend but police have not identified who was behind the attack. The vandals rearranged bushes shaped as a star of David at the centre of the monument into a swastika symbol.

Vandals have also recently attacked Muslim and Lithuanian sites in the area, while just a fortnight ago the memorial to hundreds of Polish Jews killed in the Jedwabne pogrom was desecrated.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants described the Bialystok vandalism as cowardly. "We demand that Polish authorities do more to protect such sites and punish the perpetrators of such crimes," said vice-president Elan Steinberg.

"In the aftermath of the earlier attack by vandals at Jedwabne, we demand that Poland replace words with concrete action and swiftly bring the criminals to justice.

"Security at locations memorialising the destroyed Jewish communities of Poland must be guaranteed as a matter of Polish national obligation."

He added: "The victimisation of Poland by Nazi Germany was an historical reality, but the role of Poles in the persecution of its Jewish citizens places a particular responsibility on it which Poland has yet to fulfill."

Last updated: 2:03pm, September 12 2011