Antisemitic terms and other phrases denying the Holocaust appeared Tuesday on at least nine buildings at the site of the former Nazi German death camp Auschwitz, where at least 1.1 million prisoners died during the Holocaust, 90% of whom were Jews. The spray-painted graffiti was written in English and German on nine wooden barracks that once housed hundreds of male prisoners, reports the Washington Post. The area, part of a 420-acre site, was not monitored by cameras, police in southern Poland said, per the AP.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum said security was "constantly being expanded," but had suffered under financial restraints tied to a reduced number of visitors during the pandemic. It noted the graffiti—including "two references to the Old Testament, often used by antisemites, and denial slogans"—appeared sometime Tuesday morning. Officials hope to speak to anyone who was in the area before noon and to review photos taken near the men’s barracks and main entrance around that time. If convicted, the perpetrator or perpetrators would face up to eight years in prison for vandalizing a historic object.
Conservators will begin removing the graffiti "as soon as the police have compiled all the necessary documentation," the museum added, condemning the "outrageous attack on the symbol of one of the greatest tragedies in human history and an extremely painful blow to the memory of all the victims of the German Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau camp." Dani Daya, chairman of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, said it was an attack on "any person with a conscience," per the AP. The BBC notes a Jewish cemetery near the camp was defaced with Nazi symbols earlier this year.
The latest vandalism came on the same day that the European Union announced a new strategy to fight antisemitism—with increased funding for protecting places of worship and the creation of a network to assist in removing online hate speech—owing to the "persistence and a significant increase of antisemitic incidents" in the bloc. In a survey of young Jewish Europeans by Europe’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, 81% said antisemitism was a problem in their home country, while 44% said they were the target of antisemitic harassment in the previous year. (This is also a problem stateside.)