A volunteer clean-up operation took place this week to finally get rid of the anti-Semitic and xenophobic graffiti that vandals scrawled last December at the Jewish cemetery in Sochaczew, Poland. The work also entailed a general clean-up of the cemetery, clearing it of trash and other material.
The Museum of Sochaczew Land and the Bzura Battlefield, with maintains the cemetery, coordinated the action, which was jointly organized by the Museum, the Warsaw Jewish Community, the office of Mayor Piotr Osiecki, and the Hejt Stop Foundation. Among the volunteers were the owner and employees of a local stone-work business, who brought professional expertise and equipment — and also Sebastian Rejak – special representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Jewish Diaspora.
Virtual Shtetl reported that about 40 people took part in the clean-up. The volunteers held a workshop on tolerance before beginning the clean-up.
In mid-December, vandals defaced a tomb and Holocaust monuments at the cemetery with anti-Semitic graffiti and pro-ISIS slogans. The scrawls defaced the red-brick ohel of the Bornstein family of tzaddiks, as well as two Holocaust memorials standing nearby. The graffiti included the Star of David on a gallows, a swastika, the number 88 (a code for “Heil Hitler”) and slogans — in English — including “Allah bless Hitler,” “Islam with dominate”, “Holocaust never happened,” “Islamic State was here,” and “F–k Jews.”
There had been criticism that action was not taken earlier to clean the tombs, but the Museum waited for weather conditions to improve before carrying out the work.