I don't usually post about defacement or vandalism of monuments, but I can't ignore this one. The monument in Jedwabne to the hundreds of Jews burned alive by their Polish neighbors when they herded them into a barn and set the barn on fire in July 1941 has been defaced with swastikas and anti-semitic slogans.
Media reports said a policeman on patrol discovered the attack Wednesday night. The monument, which stands on the site of the barn where the Jews were killed, is not lit and stands on its own, away from town buildings. Jan Gross's book about the event, "Neighbors," touched off a huge and lacerating debate on Poland the Holocaust when it was published a decade ago.
Photographs in the Polish media showed anti-Semitic slogans and swastikas scrawled in big green letters on the obelisk-like monument and on the wall surrounding it. One slogan read, "No need to apologize for Jedwabne."
According to Polish news reports, regional police in Bialystok, who are investigating the incident, are linking this attack to other apparent neo-fascist vandal attack in the past few weeks in eastern and northeast Poland. These include scrawled anti-Semitic slogans and Nazi symbols found on the former synagogue in the town of Orla on August 10. Then, vandals broke into the Islamic Center in Bialystok, trashed the ground floor and attempted to set the building on fire. The next day, bilingual signs in Polish and Lithanian were found damaged in Punsk, a town near the border with Lithuania.
On Thursday, Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski issued a statement condemning the vandal attacks. "I utterly condemn these acts of criminality, alien to Polish tradition," he said. "There is no room for such behaviour in Polish society – even if it is the work of but a small group of extremists. We stand in solidarity with all those who feel personally affected by these despicable acts. I am convinced that the perpetrators will be swiftly tracked down and face the full extent of the law with regard to their actions."