Authorities in eastern France said Tuesday they found 107 graves desecrated with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans in a Jewish cemetery near the German border.
The vandalism in the town of Westhoffen, west of the city of Strasbourg, was discovered hours after a comparable assault on another Jewish cemetery in the nearby town of Schaffhausen-sur-Zorn.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the cemetery, in a village near Strasbourg, telling community leaders: “It is important for me to be here with you today. ”
France has the largest Jewish community in Europe, with around 550,000 people.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner denounced the “blatant demonstrations” on Twitter, adding that everything was being done to ensure that disbelievers were treated.
Abject, odious … words are not enough to condemn these profanations, which remind us, once again, of the importance of our fight against hatred.
Without ever compromising; without ever negotiating. https://t.co/IcY86eGsor
– Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) December 28, 2020
Police are exploring, while specialists nearby have said they are trying to stop such assaults from happening again.
The vice-chairman of the Auschwitz International Committee, Christoph Heubner, said the episode “shocks and disturbs Holocaust survivors around the world”.
The Alsace region has seen a progression of sectarian episodes and hostile to Semitic episodes that recently sparked a public debate on sectarianism in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish group.
In February, more than 90 graves were smeared with insignia at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, northwest of Strasbourg.
According to police figures, the number of offenses against Jews answered to specialists increased by 74% in 2018 compared to the previous year.