BONN (Jan. 14)
Officials at the Bergen-Belsen memorial in Lower Saxony have confirmed that buildings on the site were daubed with Nazi symbols on New Year’s Eve.
The vandalism occurred during the night of Dec. 31 and the wee hours of Jan. 1. No arrests have been made, according to the Interior Ministry in Hanover, capital of Lower Saxony.
The incident was first reported in the United States two weeks ago on the ABC television program “PrimeTime Live.” The report was promptly verified by the New York-based World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors.
Bergen-Belsen officials said the offenders painted swastikas and other Nazi graffiti on the walls and doors of the documentation center at the memorial, which also houses a small Holocaust museum and exhibits of crimes of the Third Reich.
The center is located in front of the main entrance to the former concentration camp, where about 30,000 Jews died during World War II.
The vandals did not enter the camp itself and did not disturb the mass graves, where an inscribed obelisk was erected in 1946.
According to Sam Bloch, president of the Bergen-Belsen Survivors, the graffiti included numerous swastikas, SS insignias and “Sieg Heil.”
Bloch said “police authorities are investigating” the vandalism, but “they assume this was a job done by juvenile delinquents.”
The vandalism appears to be part of an ongoing surge of racist activities in Germany.
“Race hatred is still alive and well in Germany,” Kent Schiner, president of B’nai B’rith International, said in response to the defacement.
“Those responsible for this hideous act are telling us that the Nazi mentality has not disappeared.”
(JTA staff writer Susan Birnbaum in New York contributed to this report.)