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Vandals desecrate Austrian Jewish cemetery

(JTA) – Vandalism in a Jewish section of Vienna’s Central Cemetery left 43 gravestones toppled or damaged.

"We are deeply dismayed at this level of vandalism," Jewish community President Oscar Deutsch said last Friday in a statement on the community’s website after inspecting the cemetery. Deutsch said the Jewish community hoped for quick action on the case and punishment for whoever carried it out. Austrian police are investigating the incident.

With some 120,000 graves it its two sections, the Central Cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in Vienna.

Days before the desecration, Vienna city authorities announced the completion of a milestone in the restoration of the 349 gravestones in Vienna’s oldest Jewish cemetery, a burial ground on Seegasse Street that operated from about 1540 to 1783 and is now maintained by the city as a park and memorial site.

The Vienna city government’s culture department reported in May that the 50th headstone had been fully restored and erected in its original position.

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