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2 Jewish cemeteries vandalized in Germany amid reported rise in antisemitic crimes

Culprits smashed 16 headstones near Berlin and painted a swastika on the walls of a centuries-old graveyard in Hamburg.

(JTA) — Two Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized in Germany this month as both the country’s interior ministry and a prominent watchdog group have published statistics suggesting an increase in antisemitic crimes.

On Monday, swastikas were found spray-painted on a wall in Hamburg’s centuries-old Altona cemetery, German news site t-online reported Tuesday.

Earlier this month, unidentified individuals knocked down 16 headstones at a Jewish cemetery and four others at a Catholic one nearby in Köthen, a town about 80 miles southwest of Berlin.

In a third incident, Nazi symbols were scrawled on a plaque commemorating Jewish victims of a concentration camp in Dresden, DNN reported on Tuesday.

A report published on May 10 by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community recorded 3,027 antisemitic incidents in Germany in 2021 — a 28% increase over the 2020 tally.

The report recorded a drop in the number of other types of hate crimes, including anti-Muslim crimes (a decrease of 28% to 732 incidents); anti-Christian crimes (down 22% to 101 cases) and anti-foreigner hate crimes (down 10% to 4,735 cases).

The RIAS anti-discrimination watchdog group, which writes independently annual report about antisemitic incidents in Berlin, on Tuesday published its annual report on 2021, which counted 1,052 incidents. It was a slight increase over 2020, the the Jüdische Allgemeine Jewish newspaper reported.

Separately, the IKG Jewish community group in neighboring Austria documented nearly 1,000 incidents in that country in 2021 for its annual report. That is a record-high, but only a dozen or so cases were physical assaults. Many of the other incidents occurred online.

At the Köthen cemetery, the damage done to the Jewish section is estimated at about $10,000 of damage, the Jüdische Allgemeine  reported. Police are looking for the culprits.

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