Krakow, Poland – The discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti at the site of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp has sparked outrage in Poland and abroad.
Earlier this week, the Auschwitz memorial and museum, in charge of the management of the former Nazi death camp, said some of its staff had found anti-Semitic slogans spray-painted on at least nine barracks.
The slurs, some of which are said to echo the wording of Holocaust deniers, were found in both English and German. In order to prevent the spread of such anti-Semitic rhetoric, management of the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site did not disclose the exact phrasing of the graffiti.
Auschwitz staff launched a public appeal to anyone who might have information to find the people responsible, believed to have struck between 8 am and noon on Tuesday morning. Local police from the town of Oswiecim have also launched an investigation into the matter, the BBC reported.
Vandalizing historical buildings and objects can carry a sentence of up to eight years in Poland.
“As soon as the police have compiled all the necessary documentation, the conservators of the Auschwitz memorial will begin removing traces of vandalism from historical buildings,” the memorial centre said, calling the act “an outrageous attack on the symbol of one of the great tragedies in human history.”
The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel also expressed its outrage, describing it as an “attack not only on the memory of the victims, but also on the survivors and any person with a conscience.”
“It is also yet another painful reminder that more must be done to raise awareness about the Holocaust and to educate the public and the younger generation regarding the dangers of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and distortion,” Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan added in a statement.
Reports suggest insufficient funding prevents the Auschwitz memorial from covering the entirety of the 170-hectare site with security cameras.
Although rare, acts of vandalism continue to occur from time to time at Auschwitz, which is one of the most visited museums and memorial sites in Europe.
At least 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were killed in the Nazi death camp installed in occupied Poland between 1940 and 1945.