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Restored Jewish cemetery in Czech Republic desecrated

PRAGUE, Sept. 28 (JTA) – A historic Czech Jewish cemetery has been seriously damaged by vandals. The attack came just one week after the cemetery had been restored by a German benevolence group. Petr Bacharach, head of the Jewish Religious Community in Ostrava, said last week he was convinced that the Sept. 16 desecration of the local cemetery, which had been declared a historic site by the Czech Ministry of Culture, was an act of racial hatred rather than random delinquency because a nearby Christian cemetery was not desecrated. “I am convinced that this was not an act of simple vandalism,” he said. “It was racially motivated.” Ostrava is located on the eastern border of the Czech Republic. More than 80 granite and sandstone tombstones were damaged or overturned by nine vandals. A witness saw the vandals approach the 150-year-old cemetery in a van. Police have not made any arrests in the crime – which resulted in more than $29,000 in damage. They told Bacharach that there were several prime suspects, all of them teen-agers. All but 10 of the damaged tombstones had recently been repaired by the Movement for Atonement, an organization of German students dedicated to atoning for the sins of Nazi Germany. “The cemetery was starting to look good after months of refurbishment,” Bacharach said. “I am disgusted with what [the vandals] did. How else can we feel about them destroying what we have tried so hard to protect?”

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