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May 19, 2022



Czech Police investigating anonymous antisemitic letter in Prostějov

20.2.2017 6:26
--ilustrační foto--
--ilustrační foto--

Police are investigating the circumstances of an anonymous letter full of antisemitic insults and vulgarities that has been sent to different people in Prostějov in connection with the sometimes passionate discussion about how to arrange for dignified remembrance at the site of the former Jewish cemetery near the local school. Representatives of an American philanthropic foundation, Kolel Damesek Eliezer, which is attempting to rehabilitate the Jewish cemetery, are planning to report a crime because of the anonymous letter that has been addressed to bureaucrats and residents of Prostějov.

Tomáš Jelínek, the spokesperson for Kolel Damesek Eliezer, provided a copy of the anonymous letter to the Czech News Agency on 15 February. "We have accumulated a great deal of evidence which we have given to experts on extremism at the Czech Interior Ministry. Currently we are finalizing our report together with a law office. According to our information, display of antisemitism in Prostějov, including the most recent letter, are beginning to be investigated by the district police specialist on extremism," Jelínek said.

The foundation spokesperson said he believes individuals or organizations who receive the anonymous letter should contact the police. "I am convinced that this letter deserves the attention not just of those to whom it has been addressed, but especially of those involved in combating extremism, racial defamation and xenophobia," Jelínek said.

Police spokesperson František Kořínek told the Czech News Agency on 15 February that detectives in Prostějov are already dealing with the anonymous letter. "We are investigating it," he said.

Kolel Damesek Eliezer has been attempting to rehabilitate the cemetery for some time, as the remains of 1 924 Jewish in habitants of Prostějov are buried there. The former Jewish cemetery was placed on the list of cultural heritage sites by the Czech Culture Ministry despite the disagreement of the town hall, which is concerned that rehabilitating the cemetery will cause complications, for example, with future repairs to utilities in the vicinity.

This year the ministry has declared 12 historical tombstones there to be cultural heritage as well. The gravestones with their Hebrew inscriptions were dismantled by people from neighboring villages during the German occupation.

The stones were then used, for example, to pave courtyards. Since then, some of have been identified.

The former Jewish cemetery is covered by a park and school now and is currently remembered just by a memorial. Jewish organizations have not yet managed to reach agreement with the town hall about how to arrange for dignified commemoration at the space.

Former Czech Prime Minister Vladimír Špidla (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) is attempting to aid both sides with resolving the protracted dispute and is meant to play the role of mediator between them. The Jewish cemetery was established in Prostějov in 1801 and in 1943 was closed at the instigation of the mayor, who was a German.

A significant Jewish community lived in Prostějov until the 19th century. The ancestors of the philosopher Edmund Husserl and the author Stefan Zweig are buried there.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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