Around 59 graves were damaged in a Jewish cemetery in Namestovo, a town in northern Slovakia on Dec. 17, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
A group called The Remember, which works to protect the site, told the AP that the gravestones were “knocked down and desecrated.” There are believed to have been multiple vandals involved, although an exact number has not yet been publicly released.
The Slovakian Jewish community called the desecration “an unprecedented barbaric act,” according to Jewish News Syndicate (JNS).
The name of the cemetery has not been publicly released, but it has existed since the second half of the 18th century; The Remember renovated the cemetery in the 2010s.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted, “Attacks against the living often begin with desecration of the dead.”
— SimonWiesenthalCntr (@simonwiesenthal) December 17, 2019
American Jewish Committee (AJC) Central Europe tweeted that according to The Remember, “No such level of vandalism hit the cemetery even during WWII.” AJC Europe added, “We are speechless.”
⚠️59 gravestones at an 18th century Jewish cemetery in northern Slovakia were vandalized.
"No such level of vandalism hit the cemetery even during WWII" said the group that works to preserve the site.
Police said they were investigating the attack. We are speechless… pic.twitter.com/IB4g8jBdm5
— AJC Central Europe (@AJC_CE) December 17, 2019
The World Jewish Congress said in a statement, “This was an inexcusable and direct attack against the Jewish community, which must be condemned at the highest levels. All authorities in Slovakia and across Europe must make it clear that such expressions of disrespect and hatred will not be tolerated.”
On Dec. 3, more than 100 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Westhoffen, France, were found desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti, which included swastikas. In response, the French government announced on Dec. 5 that they are establishing a national office to combat hate crimes.