A group of Holocaust survivors on Thursday condemned the destruction of a memorial site commemorating the Jewish victims of a pogrom in the village of Jedwabne.
Elan Steinberg, Vice-President of American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said the recent desecration of the site where Jews were killed by their neighbors during World War II was a disgrace and called on Poland to find the culprits.
“Holocaust survivors are horrified by this violent act of hate and demand swift punishment of the perpetrators by the Polish authorities,” said Steinberg. “Coming on the anniversary of the Second World War, the target of the vandals’ hatred was not only the Jewish community but the standing and reputation of modern-day Poland.”
He added: “In erecting the Jedwabne memorial Poland demonstrated its determination to confront its anti-Semitic past; by its swift reaction to these vandals it will demonstrate its commitment to fight hate in the present. This is the challenge Poland faces.”
Earlier in the day Polish police said unknown vandals had defaced a monument to victims of a World War Two attack against Jews in Poland, covering it with racist inscriptions and swastikas in green paint.
At least 340 Jews were burned alive by their Polish neighbors in a barn in the 1941 pogrom in the eastern town of Jedwabne. The site was later turned into a memorial.
Vandals also smeared a wall surrounding the memorial with signs saying “I’m not sorry for Jedwabne” and “They were highly flammable.” They obscured the Hebrew and Polish signs on the memorial itself with paint.
All the recent anti-Semitic and xenophobic incidents were probably perpetrated by the same people, Poland’s interior ministry said this week, and they are all under investigation by the Bialystok police.