Around 200 tombstones and 100 monuments were desecrated Thursday in a Jewish cemetery in the south of Romania’s capital Bucharest. Unknown vandals have knocked over and, in some cases, destroyed the headstones in the cemetery where at least 35,000 Jews are buried, including victims of the Holocaust. It took place during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah. The vandals also smashed windows in the administrative offices of the cemetery. No anti-Semitic slogans were discovered on the destroyed tombstones, according to police. Jewish leaders condemned the desecration and said the scale of the destruction suggested the activity was organized — rather than random acts by wayward youths. Paul Schwartz, spokesman for Romania's Jewish community, called the desecration "the worst act of vandalism in the nation in recent times."
"We cannot be silent," said Ozi Lazar, who heads Bucharest's Jewish community. "We want a full investigation and for the perpetrators to be punished." In a press statement, Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu said Romania condemned the vandalism of the cemetery and all other anti-Semitic, xenophobic and racist acts. Romania's justice ministry promised a thorough investigation into the vandalism, which took place Thursday. The Jewish community currently numbers around 10,000 people.
Two weeks ago Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu announced the construction of a monument dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust in the centre of Bucharest.
Around 400,000 Romanian Jews were killed by the Nazi regime during WWII.