Police in the city of Greifswald in former East Germany believe neo-Nazis are behind the destruction of 11 “stumbling block” Holocaust memorials.
The vandalism was discovered on Nov. 9, the 74th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom against Jews.
According to Die Welt newspaper, the brass plaques, which bear the names of murdered Jews and are placed outside their former homes as memorials, were pried loose.
Knut Abramowski, president of the Police Headquarters of Neubrandenburg, calling the vandalism a “malicious act,” reportedly has offered a more than $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.
A state police investigation is under way, according to Spiegel Online.
Police suspect there may be a connection between the crime and a gathering of some 100 neo-Nazis in the neighboring city of Wolgast, Spiegel reported. Local mayor Artur Koenig of the Christian Democratic Party said that “people who still refuse to believe that our Jewish citizens were exterminated in the Nazi era will not gain the upper hand.”
German artist Gunter Demnig came up with the idea for the Stolpersteine, or “stumbling blocks,” project in the mid 1990s, after hearing an elderly woman deny that there had been any Holocaust victims in her town. Since 2003, more than 30,000 such brass memorials have been installed across Germany and in other European countries. In 2005, Demnig won an Obermayer German Jewish History Award, which honors non-Jewish Germans who contributed toward recording or preserving the Jewish history of their communities.