171 Jewish Cemeteries Desecrated in Germany Since 1948, Govt. Reports

The Federal Bureau of Criminality released today what was believed to be the first nation-wide report in modern German history of desecration of cemeteries. The report revealed that while Christian as well as Jewish burial places have been violated, proportionately far more desecrations have taken place in Jewish cemeteries.

The study, covering the period of January 1, 1948 to May 1, 1957, was motivated, the bureau said, by the “sharp” public reaction to the desecration of the Jewish section of the Salzgitter-Lebenstedt cemetery last April. The report showed that 203 of the violated cemeteries were Christian and 171 Jewish. Damages were reported in four cemeteries having both Jewish and Christian sections.

The report noted that nearly 54 percent of all Christian cemeteries were desecrated and 45 percent of all Jewish burial places. However, it emphasized that any inference of greater desecrations of Christian than Jewish cemeteries would be inaccurate because there were only about 1,700 Jewish cemeteries in Germany. Proportionately, the report stated, many more desecrations have taken place in Jewish cemeteries.

A much higher percentage of desecrations of Jewish cemeteries were solved because police investigated such outrages more thoroughly than the Christian violations, the report said. The more intensive police action was due to charges that Jewish desecrations were political acts. The report, however, listed only one violation as a proven “political demonstration.”

Children under 14 were responsible for the desecration of nearly 70 percent of violated Jewish graves, compared with 24 percent for Christian graves. Adults responsible for such acts desecrated more Christian than Jewish graves, leading authors of the report to comment that “The Jewish cemetery seems to have a magical attraction for children and youths.”

Most of the cemetery damages done by the children were ascribed in the report to “what in criminological evaluation must be termed ‘gross mischief.” Other motives listed were profit-seeking, mental disturbances and drunkenness.

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