Archive for the ‘Holocaust~Shoah’ Category

‘Psalms,’ set in Belgium, is unusual Holocaust memoir

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Psalms, A Memoir by Hirsch Grunstein; Create Space; 403 pages; no price listed.

By Norman Manson

Norman Manson

SAN DIEGO–This is, in a number of ways, a very unusual memoir of Holocaust survival. It is not a story of survival in death camps, nor of life on the run deep in the fields and woods of eastern Europe.

Rather, it portrays the recollections of a boy’s life under four years of Nazi occupation in Belgium – a life fraught with stress and anxiety, yet almost devoid of physical harm, at least for young Hirsch (or Henri as he was know in those years) Grunstein.

In some ways the most amazing part of this story is Grunstein’s phenomenal memory, his vivid descriptions of his growing-up years, 65 to 70 years ago. And a section that highlights this phenomenon is his recall of reading the entire biblical book of Psalms, which made a sufficient impression on him that he made it his book’s title.

While Belgium’s Jews certainly suffered under Nazi rule – 25,000 of the 60,00 who lived there were deported to Auschwitz and other death camps and few if any returned – the impression left by this book is that they underwent fewer of the horrors than their East European counterparts did and that, with the help of a few compassionate gentiles, a larger percentage were able to survive.

Grunstein suffered only one really excruciating moment in the course of his wartime odyssey, and what seemed to be a portent of utter foreboding quickly turned into a time of renewed hope. And, in the end, the immediate Grunstein family all survived and were reunited.

Originally from Poland, the Grunsteins immigrated to Belgium in 1930, and were quite well established in Antwerp’s flourishing diamond industry by the time the Wehrmacht invaded in May 1940. They first fled to France, but there was no haven there and they soon returned home, oddly enough with the encouragement of the conquering Nazis. At first, all seemed almost normal, but the Nazis gradually tightened their stranglehold, barring Jews from businesses, schools and much of the city.
In 1942, raids on the Jewish neighborhood were followed by deportations, ostensibly for work.

Finally, in September 1942, it was decided to place young Henri (he was 14) and his younger brother Sylvain with a gentile family in a small village between Antwerp and Brussels. Their hosts, Adrienne and Gaston, put Henri in a small upsteairs bedroom. And, for the next year and  a half, Grunstein spent most of his days in hiding, peering out the window or reading from the small book of Psalms that his father had made him take along.

This segment is the most fascinating and provocative of the story – one can see why he titled the book “Psalms.” Amazingly, he recalls, in minute, precise detail, the impact the psalms had on him, bring back memories of his childhood in synagogue and school, and inspiring visions of various aspects of Judaism.  The family was Orthodox, quite observant, and Henri tries to retain at least some semblance of Orthodoxy in this totally gentile environment. He even managed to fast on one Yom Kippur. And, when not reading the Psalms, he spends much of his time fanstsizing, gazing out the window and describing the scenes, and his fantasies.

This relatively placid existence came to a sudden, jolting end in the spring of 1944, when he (and others) were apprehended by the SS -his description of his capture is also very detailed and suspense-filled. And, for no more than a day, he appears to be doomed. However, he is rescued by the Belgian Judenrat (Jewish council) and spends the last months of the war in a home for children.

Not to minimize the fate of the 25,000 Belgian Jews sent to Auschwitz and other death camps, but this book seems to indicate that at least a significant number of Belgian gentiles hid and otherwise helped their country’s Jews. Relatively little has been written about the Holocaust in Belgium, and his story spotlights the Belgians’ role during that horrendous era. And Grunstein’s recollections of his wartime experiences are truly amazing in their precise, minute detail after almost 70 years.

For someone whose first language is not English, this memoir is quite well written, and the editing also is first-rate.  For a somewhat unusual take on the Holocaust, this is a book well worth reading.

Manson is a freelance writer based in San Diego


The Jews Down Under~News of the Jews of Australia and New Zealand

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Garry Fabian

By Garry Fabian

New Zealand Jewish Community goes to court

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 10 August– The following announcement was released by the  New Zealand Jewish Community:

As we informed the community last week, we filed  legal proceedings against the Minister of
Agriculture, seeking a restoration of the right  to practise shechitain New Zealand.  We are  pleased to report that an interim agreement has
now been reached with the Minister, which will  enable the continued practice of shechita in the  period up to trial (which is likely to take place during 2011).

Court orders were made by consent in the  Wellington High Court this morning, giving legal effect to that agreement. Every effort is being
made to get chicken and local lamb”back on the table”as soon as possible.

The community would like to acknowledge the  tremendous contribution the legal team at Russell McVeagh have made in putting together our
case to achieve this positive outcome in such a short period.

The memorandum was signed by Jewish community leaders Garth Cohen, Michael Stiassny and Geoff Levy.

Church resolution reveals failure of interfaith

MELBOURNE, 13 August -The National Council of  Churches of Australia’s resolution encouraging a  boycott of Israel is absolutely indefensible, and  makes a mockery of both mutual tolerance and  “interfaith” dialogue. It is abundantly clear in  the case of Israel, as in countless instances in Jewish history, an exception has been made of Jews.

If the churches were fair  about their  human rights concerns they would have boycotted  Sudan, Saudi Arabia and so many other Islamic
countries for their real human rights abuses and  treatment and discrimination of non-Muslim minorities.

No mainstream church group has ever openly sided  with Jews, publicly criticising Iran’s President  Amadinajad over his promotion of Holocaust denial and anti Semitic rhetoric or criticising Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism. There are so many other examples of the church’s hypocrisy in singling out the Jewish state as their ‘pet’ cause. Even some Christians who have seen the NCAA statement find it incomprehensible that it
does not mention Palestinian/Hamas discrimination of Christians in Gaza.

Jewish interfaith advocates should start  insisting on some reciprocity and public support for the Jewish narrative in the Israel/
Palestinian, Arab Muslim conflict otherwise they are wasting their time


Contemporary Antisemitism: What We Can Do

Contemporary antisemitism turns Israel into a collective Jew among the nations, demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish state. Irwin Cotler
defines its expression in the genocidal antisemitism of Ahmadinejad’s Iran; the political antisemitism  that denies Jews the right to national selfdetermination; the racialised antisemitism that defines Zionism as racism; the legalized antisemitism that makes a mockery of the UN Human  Rights procedures, and the “new protocols of the elders of Zion”, which blames Israel for  everything from 9/11 to swine flu.

But, Cotler argues, we can act. We have  opportunities through Holocaust memory and education, through pressuring for the implementation of the  legal procedures of the Genocide Convention,
through reforming the UN, through government  initiatives and through working to reframe the narrative that blames Israel and Jews for all
Middle East conflict and ignores human rights abuses in other parts of the world..

The Hon. Professor Irwin Cotler MP is an eminent  human rights lawyer and Canadian statesman. A former Canadian Attorney-General and sitting  member of the Canadian Parliament, he has been outspoken on issues of human rights in the  former Soviet Union, South Africa and Rwanda.

The ADC was honoured to host him recently as our ADC Gandel Orator. This special report is an edited transcript of his Oration.

Australian Foreign Minister charts positive Israel course

CANBERRA,  13 August – The diplomatic relationship  between Australia and Israel has resumed on its normal course, less than three months after Stephen Smith expelled an Israeli diplomat from Canberra.

And despite a frosty few months, the two  countries – which both share a desire to see Iran’s nuclear weapons program halted immediately
– never ceased to share intelligence on the rogue state.

In a wide-ranging interview during a campaign  stop in Melbourne, Smith spoke about the resumption of that relationship. He made no
pledges about the foreign policy direction a  future Gillard government would take, but spoke in depth about some of the decisions made over the past almost three years.

“I am now very confident that things are now back to business as usual,” he said of the diplomatic ties between Australia and Israel.

“Often when you have a difficult issue that you’ve got to manage, your capacity to manage that and then to move reasonably quickly off it,
reflects the strength of the relationship.

“Yes it was a difficult time and I obviously  thought very carefully about all of the issues and came to the decision that, as I said
publicly, we could not turn a blind eye to what had occurred.

“I’m very confident now that in terms of agency-to-agency relationship,
government-to-government, nation-to-nation, it is business as usual.”

He added that at no time during the diplomatic impasse, did the two countries stop cooperating to quash the rogue Iranian regime.

“One area [of the Australia-Israel relationship] we did not want to see disturbed was the ongoing cooperation and exchange of information on Iran,” he said.

Asked whether he thought the forthcoming direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians means that the time for peace is right, Smith showed some trademark diplomacy.

“I think your attitude has got to be that it is always right,” he said. “You always have to try and take the opportunity and often when things
appear to be at their worst is often a time when you can move forward.”

“We’re very supportive of President [Barack] Obama’s efforts, we’re very supportive of  Ambassador [George] Mitchell’s efforts and we
make the point to all of the players in the Middle East that it is absolutely essential that we get long-term enduring peace.

“The issues are complex, complicated and there are strong views respectively on both sides, but we can’t give up because solving these Middle East issues is very important to peace and security, peace and stability throughout the entire world,” he said.

Jewish Music Festival hits Sydney

SYDNEY, 16 August – SHIR Madness, Sydney’s first  large-scale Jewish music festival, brought Bondi Beach to life with more than 40 performers from Australia and around the world, eclectic food stalls, kids activities and an art exhibition centred around Bondi Pavilion on Sunday, August 15.

The festival is the brainchild of Gary Holzman, who has dreamed of staging a music festival for many years.

“I’ve always felt there would be somebody better  equipped to put it on than myself, but as it never eventuated, I finally decided to do
something about it,” says Holzman, who is the festival director.

The festival will feature four stages, with musical styles covering klezmer, choral, Latino, Chassidic, Israeli, jazz, cabaret, folk, blues, pop, rock, funk, reggae and rap.

Among the local performers are Deborah Conway, Monsieur Camem­bert, The Mark Ginsburg Band,  Alana Bruce, Joanna Weinberg, the Emanuel choirs and the Sydney Jewish Choral Society.

Leading the line-up of international performers are Israeli singer Ido Lederman, Alex Jacobowitz from New York and the Jew Brothers Band from New Zealand.

Lederman began his music career as lead singer of Israeli rock band Amstaf, and was bass player for the reggae group Hatikvah 6. He will also perform in Melbourne on August 21.

Holzman says: “It’s just going to be an amazing atmosphere and an absolute smorgasbord – what I would call a ‘mixed salad’ of musical delight.

“People should come to appreciate the amazing variety of musical talent within the Jewish community, both from Sydney and from other places as well.

“With the incredible variety of music on offer, a food court full of tempting delights, market stalls, kids entertainment and an exhibition of
Jewish art, this is going to be a fantastic festival for the whole family to come and enjoy.”

Holzman hopes the festival will be an annual event.

“We certainly want to make sure that it’s not going to be a one-off, but will become a highlight of the Sydney cultural calendar.”

One of the international performers from upstate New York is  Jacobowitz, a master of the marimba who has plied his trade across the world, most notably in Germany. An Orthodox Jew, he focuses
on the traditional klezmer music of his ancestors.

“My music is spiritual, natural, totally  unexpected and riveting,” he says. “It brings European music, African sound and Jewish geist together.”

Jacobowitz says his Jewish identity is an integral part of his music.

“Judaism is my spirit, and my spirit energises and breathes life into my music. Whether I’m playing Bach, flamenco or klezmer, my music is 100 per cent kosher.”

Jacobowitz is thrilled to be in Australia and taking part in Shir Madness.

“To be part of the first Jewish music festival in Sydney makes me proud and humble at the same time, and I hope that the music finds a special echo there.”

For AJN Ghetto Blasterz competition winner Shannon Gaitz, Shir Madness is the highlight of her fledgling music career so far.

“I’m extremely excited, especially to be able to get my name and my songs out there,” says Gaitz, 17, from Bondi, who describes her music as country pop.

“It’s very honest – it’s all based on personal experience and very emotional.”
Gaitz is grabbing the opportunity to perform at Shir Madness with both hands.

“It’s just a huge opportunity of being able to get performance experience, especially with my original songs, and I’m going to be playing with
Philip Foxman, he’s my mentor and that’s also a really big honour.”

Gaitz will also spend a day recording tracks at  the Green Sound Music studios in Sydney’s Castle Cove as part of her prize.Sydney band The Naked Parade has been causing quite a stir with its  infectious brand of alternative pop-rock.

Singer Talya Rabinovitz explains with a laugh: “We’ve been told that we are the love child of Jeff Buckley and No Doubt if they went travelling
though Eastern Europe and South America.”

“We definitely have a Middle Eastern vibe to our music, with the violin, melodies and the drumbeats.”

Rabinovitz is excited to be performing at Shir Madness.

“It just looks like an amazing music festival,” she says. “This will be a different age group for us as well –

I know that a lot of my family like my aunts and uncles are coming and they don’t usually come to our gigs. I’m excited to see their reaction and put on a show.”

Local singer Natan Kuchar has spent the past four years plying his trade in the United States.

Kuchar has performed solo at Carnegie Hall, but the humble performer speaks more enthusiastically about his recent album release at a small Surry Hills venue in Sydney.

“It made me feel like people really dig what I have and were really interested in me,” he says. “It was a really great confidence booster and it
helped propel me to apply for Shir Madness.”

Kuchar describes his music as “a really raw sound, merging pop music and soul music.”

“I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from people like Stevie Wonder and Regina Spektor for their  melodies and for their storytelling within their music,” he says.

“I really love to subtly add melodies from synagogue services or from High Holy Days or just lyrics that are found in certain religious texts
that help to support some other kind of contemporary story that I’m trying to tell in my songs.”

Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World

Holocaust survivor from Tcyzyn has renewed hope of finding his brother

August 13, 2010 Leave a comment

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (Press Release)— George Salton is a Holocaust survivor who was born in the small town of Tyczyn, Poland. He was about to enter the 6th grade in September 1939 when the Nazis occupied Poland. His name was Lucjan Salzman(n). His family was forced into the Rzeszow Ghetto, and his parents, Anna and Herman Salzmann, deported to, and gassed at the Belzec Extermination Camp. George and his older brother Manek remained in the ghetto and worked as forced labor in a factory camp in Rzeszow. After George was imprisoned at the camp, Manek escaped from the ghetto. Over the next few months he somehow managed to pass several notes to George in the factory.

The last note stated that dangerous activities would make it impossible for Manek to contact him again and that they should meet after the war by contacting relatives who had managed to emigrate to New York before the war.

American soldiers of the 82nd Airborne liberated George on May 2, 1945 after 3 years in 10 concentration camps. He spent another 2 years in German Displaced Person Camps and eventually immigrated to New York. He never heard from Manek. Rumor was that Manek was killed in the forests with other young partisans fighting the Nazis.

Last week during an Internet search of newly digitized post war records, his daughter Anna Salton Eisen came across a list of Tyczyn Jewish Survivors. Manek Salzmann was on the list. On Monday, she contacted a researcher at the US Memorial Holocaust Museum who found a second document stating Manek Salzmann of Tyczyn Poland, son of Herman, was alive in Poland as of December 17, 1946.

George Salton has filed formal papers with the “The Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center” of the American Red Cross who will coordinate a search for documents or information across the globe. The US Memorial Holocaust Museum continues to search their records as Anna and George begin to contact agencies, archives and Holocaust related organizations to help track Manek’s path after December 1946. Emails regarding the “Search for Manek” are being copied and forwarded around the world. George is 83 years old and has new hope that his brother or any family he might have had may still be found. 

Preceding provided by Anna Salton Eisen, who may be contacted via

Ohr Shalom in last stages of preservation campaign for old Temple

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Ohr Shalom preservation campaign speakers: Rabbi Scott Meltzer, Supervisor Ron Roberts, SOHO's Bruce Coons, Councilman Todd Gloria, and congregants Jose Galicot, Luis Maizel and Raulf Polichar

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–Nearly 100 elected officials, preservationists and business leaders from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border gathered Wednesday morning on the site of a historic preservation project at the corner of Third and Laurel streets in Park West.

The attendees came from nearby businesses as well those in Baja California to support the final fundraising campaign to complete the renovation of what is now known as  Ohr Shalom Synagogue, an iconic landmark of San Diego built as Temple Beth Israel in 1926 and designed by notable architect William H. Wheeler.

Luis Maizel

“Make it Your Business to Make History” fundraising campaign, spearheaded by Luis Maizel, president of LM Advisors, was created as a way to involve the greater San Diego community in contributing to the expensive restoration endeavor. Only $600,000 remains to be raised for the $4 million construction project.

Maizel applauded the congregation in raising more than $3.6 million to date almost exclusively from the 350 Ohr Shalom members, adding, “It is now the turn of businesses and neighbors to aid in this effort.”

Maizel used the analogy of a marathon to explain how far they have come.

“When this project was first proposed, we knew it would be like running a marathon. But 26 miles in a long way,” he said to the audience of who gathered in the courtyard outside of the building that is currently under construction.

As a crane carried building materials over the outdoor patio, Maizel said they are now at mile 22. “We are tired and we are sore. But we will finish this race with the help of our friends and neighbors.”

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts

County Supervisor Ron Roberts, San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria, and Bruce Coons, executive director of Save Our Heritage Organisation, along with Luis Maizel, president of LM Advisors, Raulf Polichar and Jose Galicot took turns addressing the guests, stating the importance of supporting the efforts to complete renovation of the architectural jewel.

Supervisor Roberts, a former architect, began by remarking at the brave efforts of Ohr Shalom to tackle the renovation project once it became known that the building was scheduled for demolition.

“I applaud those who favor saving, and renovating, important parts of San Diego’s history,” said Supervisor Roberts. “I especially cheer those like the Ohr Shalom congregation who actually go out and raise the dollars to turn a vision into reality. The entire San Diego community will be enriched by supporting the completion of this important renovation.”

Bruce Coons, executive director, Save Our Heritage Organization

Coons paid tribute to various community members who helped to preserve the temple building after Beth Israel sold it to developers Peter Janopaul and Anthony Block, including Polichar who led efforts to obtain the building for Ohr Shalom Synagogue and Jewish Historical Society of San Diego leaders Stan and Laurel Schwartz, who mobilized a successful campaign to have the structure declared an historic monument by the State of California and placed on the national register.

“For the last eight years, Ohr Shalom has proved to be an excellent guardian of Wheeler´s work, and their efforts should be commended by the community at large,” Coons said.  

City Councilman Todd Gloria

Councilman Gloria thanked the Ohr Shalom congregation for its care of less fortunate people in his district through a variety of social service projects, and for making its meeting facilities available to the general community.

“As a third generation San Diegan, I’ve seen many buildings in our community lost because of the lack of appreciation for their historic significance,” said Gloria. “This isn’t just restoring a building; we’re preserving an important part of our neighborhood’s history for the greater good of the community.”

Reflecting the community spirit of the project, Rabbi Scott Meltzer reiterated that the Ohr Shalom building will continue servicing the entire community as a meeting center and as a resource for the entire community once the renovation is complete.

“The intention is to bring the building back to its original glory. That meant erasing the footprints of time, but to also add seismic protection and water intrusion prevention,” the rabbi explained.

Continuity between the Reform Congregation Beth Israel, which is now located in the University Towne Center area,  and the Conservative  Ohr Shalom Synagogue was represented by the presence of Jerry Goldberg, an attorney who previously served as president of Beth Israel  and who is the uncle of Rabbi Meltzer.

“The painstaking combination of the old and the new was a challenge for Zagrodnik & Thomas Architects and Swinerton Builders,” Meltzer said, referring to the architects and builders in charge of the restoration project, “and it is evident now that it will be beautifully accomplished.”

Raulf Polichar, former Ohr Shalom Synagogue president

Polichar said that refurbishing the building meant undoing some of the “modernization of 1950 to reveal the original beauty.”  Additionally, the structure was reinforced for earthquake safety and to bring it in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.   The stage inside the old Temple Center, or social hall, was removed, and a small meeting room and new kosher kitchen constructed in its place.

Galicot told of visiting a museum in Israel where Jewish communities were represented by lights on a map.  Many  lights went out in the 15th century because of the Expulsion from Spain and Portugal and in the 20th century because of the Holocaust.  

Jose Galicot

But, now in San Diego in the 21st century, “here we are turning on lights,” Galicot declared.

Attention to detail and historic accuracy were of essence. All renovation work was approved by the Historical Resources Board at the City Planning Department and is in compliance with The Secretary of the Interiors’ Standards for Rehabilitation.

Guests were able to tour the restored areas and marveled at the dazzling stained glass windows and domed sanctuary.

Rabbi Meltzer in Ohr Shalom's refurbished sanctuary August 11, 2010Ohr Shalom Synagogue is one of the foremost examples of Mediterranean Revival, an American architectural style that caught momentum in the mid-1920s.Architect William H. Wheeler was commissioned for the construction of the property by Congregation Beth Israel, who initially occupied the premises.Stained Glass in Ohr Shalom sanctuary

Stained Glass in Ohr Shalom sanctuary

Wheeler delivered a synagogue with a classic Moorish style dome, high ceilings above a majestic sanctuary, and stained glass windows with medieval, Islamic and Jewish motifs.

Ohr Shalom Congregation took possession of the building in 2002, committed to preserving the historic landmark.

The renovation project began in January and entailed complete repair and repainting of the façade, a structural seismic upgrade to comply with current building codes, and removal of wood panels lining the halls, in order to reveal the original stucco.

The stained-glass windows were shipped to Iowa for specialized restoration, and a replica of the original raised- paneled doors is being custom made by hand in California.

Preceding based on material provided by J Simms Agency, which is coordinating the “Make It Your Business to Make History” campaign for Ohr Shalom Synagogue, and augmented by event coverage by San Diego Jewish Press editor Donald H. Harrison

Peres lauds Bulgaria’s record resisting Holocaust

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

SOFIA (WJC)– Israel’s President Shimon Peres has paid tribute to Bulgaria’s record with respect to the plight of its Jewish population during World War II. Peres said that the country had “suffered much from many directions, including from the Nazis, but the country managed not only to save itself, but also to save the Bulgarian Jews”.

“I am sincerely grateful for this,” Peres said in a speech, after he was bestowed by Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov with an order in recognition of his “great contribution towards strengthening and developing Bulgarian-Israeli bilateral relations”.

Peres was in Bulgaria to discuss cooperation between Israel and Bulgaria in technology, industry and tourism. His visit follows Purvanov’s trip to Israel in 2008, and “is the result of the high level of bilateral cooperation in all spheres”, an official statement of the Bulgarian government said.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Charges may be brought against alleged Treblinka guard

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

MUNICH (WJC)–A 93-year-old man living in southern Germany could be charged with participating in the murder of Jewish prisoners in the Nazi slave labor camp Treblinka I during World War II.

According to the news magazine ‘Der Spiegel’, prosecutors in Munich are to decide soon whether to bring charges against a man identified as Alex N. for his alleged activities as an SS guard of the camp.  Born in Ukraine and having lived in the Bavarian city of Landshut since the end of the war, N. was granted German citizenship in 1991.

Investigators at the Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Ludwigsburg provided information leading to the current investigation. The slave labor camp was located near the death camp Treblinka II, in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Alex N., who reportedly trained at the same Nazi SS facility as Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, offered testimony at the Demjanjuk trial in Munich last February. Demjanjuk is charged with helping to murder 27,900 Jews at the Sobibor death camp. Alex N. reportedly has bragged over the years about having shot Jews.

A few weeks ago, Germany filed charges against another witness in the Demjanjuk trial, Samuel Kunz, 90. He was charged with helping to murder 430,000 Jews in the Belzec death camp in occupied Poland. Two men under investigation died recently, never having stood trial: former SS officer Erich Steidtmann, 95, of Hanover, and Adolf Storms, 90.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

A third case reportedly is now under investigation in Bavaria. Klaas Carel F., 88, was convicted in the Netherlands of murdering 22 civilians. He fled from a Dutch prison in 1952, and has been living in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt. Prosecutors are looking into whether they can sentence him based on the Dutch conviction.

French monument defaced by anti-Semites

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

MARMANDE, France (WJC)–A monument to the victims of World War II in south-western France has been spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti. French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux expressed “horror and sadness” after the discovery of anti-Jewish slogans and symbols at a memorial to the deportation and resistance in Marmande, in the Lot-et-Garonne department.

The words ‘lies’, ‘Zionism’, ‘interests’ and the dollar sign were inscribed in red paint on the monument which bears the names of Nazi concentration camps. Gerard Gouzes, the mayor of Marmande, said: “It is undoubtedly the act of a Holocaust denier, someone who knows very well what he did.”

According to the interior minister, the authors of the tags “clearly targeted the memory of the deportees and the Jewish community of France.” Hortefeux said: “I am more than ever determined to fight against all the obscurantisms, all racisms and all the forms extremism.”

Wednesday’s incident came after several other anti-Semitic acts in the country. Three weeks ago, dozens of Jewish graves were vandalized in eastern France. Vandals smashed or overturned 27 gravestones at the Jewish cemetery of Wolfisheim, near Strasbourg. More recently, anti-Semitic slogans and Nazi swastikas were discovered on the walls of the Etz Haim synagogue in Melun, in central France, and on the windows and walls of a dozen kosher stores in Paris.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress