Poland: Vandals deface Holocaust memorials in multiple locations, disrupt Jewish festival
Polish media reports that in southeastern Poland a man used a backhoe last Saturday to demolish the workshop of a mason who was repairing a memorial to Holocaust victims, while in the city of Bialystok in the northeast, unidentified vandals defaced a mural depicting members of the different cultures who once lived there. The backhoe was used to break through the walls of the workshop used by Krzysztof Kolibski in the village of Wonwolnica near Lublin, destroying his equipment and two personal vehicles.
Somebody then wrote "Jews Go Away" on the piece of the Holocaust memorial that was being repaired by the mason. Kolibski collaborates with the "Forgotten" foundation (Zapomniane), which locates and researches places associated with the Holocaust in Poland and builds local memorials.
The foundation had commissioned him to repair a memorial from a location where the Nazis had shot dead more than 10 Jewish people. One week prior, somebody had destroyed the memorial, and Kolibski's workshop was targeted for attack last weekend.
According to Agnieszka Nieradková of the foundation, "it would be naive to believe these incidents are not related". The police reported that in association with this event they have arrested a 36-year-old man suspected of property destruction and are also investigating whether the crime was motivated by antisemitism.
Last Sunday in Bialystok a group of people attempted to thwart a concert being held in a Catholic church as part of a festival of Jewish culture. The group had asked the local archbishop to ban the concert ahead of time, saying that they believed "their" church is "a house of God and not a concert hall for Talmudic devils of suspect origin".
The group attended the concert and shouted while the musical performance took place. The concert organist continued his performance to the end and was rewarded with loud applause.
In the early morning hours of 19 June, also in Bialystok, somebody defaced a mural on one of the main roads for the third time in four years. The mural depicts words in the languages of the members of different cultures who used to live in Bialystok, as well as symbols of those cultures.
The depiction of a Jewish menorah in the mural was spray-painted by the vandals with the slogan "Stop 447". That is a reference to a law in the United States of America calling for the compensation or restitution of property confiscated from Holocaust victims.
As many as 3.2 million Jewish people lived in Poland until the Second World War. More than three million of them were murdered during the Holocaust.
"Today [the Jewish community in Poland] is tiny, but a great degree of hatred against Jewish people persists," Rafal Pankowski of "Nigdy Wiencej" (Never Again), the country's leading anti-racism association, told the TVN24 television channel. "We are dealing with the paradoxical phenomenon of what is called 'antisemitism without Jews'."
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