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Memorial artwork in German town vandalized on Kristallnacht anniversary

Published time: November 11, 2012 06:42
Edited time: November 11, 2012 10:42
A poster reading "A stumbling stone is missing here" stands in the city center of Greifswald, northeastern Germany, on November 9, 2012.  (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck)

A poster reading "A stumbling stone is missing here" stands in the city center of Greifswald, northeastern Germany, on November 9, 2012. (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck)

German police believe that Neo-Nazis vandalized plaques in the city of Greifswald that memorialized victims of the Nazis. The incident occurred on the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht – a series of coordinated attacks against German Jews in 1938.

­All of the 11 plaques in various locations around the city were uprooted, Die Welt daily reports.

The plaques were part of the Stolpersteine ('stumbling blocks') project by German artist Gunter Demnig, memorializing victims of the Nazi regime throughout Europe. Each plaque bore the name of a victim and was placed in front of their former home. The plaques were slightly elevated above the sidewalk so that passerby would stumble upon them.

On the evening of November 9, 1938, Nazi supporters and paramilitary forces throughout Germany and Austria attacked Jews and vandalized their properties. The night became known infamously as Kristallnacht – 'the night of broken glass.'

Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers. Historians estimate over 1,000 synagogues were burned, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed.

At least 91 Jews were killed and 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps after Kristallnacht.

A poster reading "A stumbling stone is missing here" stands in the city center of Greifswald, northeastern Germany, on November 9, 2012.  (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck)
A poster reading "A stumbling stone is missing here" stands in the city center of Greifswald, northeastern Germany, on November 9, 2012. (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck)

­Greifswald police chief Knut Abramowski called the vandalism of the plaques a "vile crime," and promised a 2500-euro reward for any information that lead to the capture of the perpetrators.

"I condemn this malicious attack in the strongest terms," Die Welt quoted Abramowski as saying.

Several German politicians also voiced concern over the incident.

“It is particularly shameful when something like this happens exactly on the anniversary of Kristallnacht," Norbert Nieszery, the chairman of Germany's Social Democratic Party told Die Welt.

Secretary of the CDU parliamentary group Wolf-Dieter Ringguth called the attacks on the memorials an “irreverent desecration”.

The plaques of the Stolpersteine project were damaged or vandalized on previous occasions. In October, an unidentified individual smeared black paint over similar plaques in the town of Zossen.

So-called ′Stolpersteine′ (stumbling blocks), memorial pavement plaques commemorating German Jews who died in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Theresienstadt, are pictured in Berlin′s Wilmersdorf district November 7, 2008. (Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch)
So-called 'Stolpersteine' (stumbling blocks), memorial pavement plaques commemorating German Jews who died in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Theresienstadt, are pictured in Berlin's Wilmersdorf district November 7, 2008. (Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch)
People stand around a cluster of six "Stolpersteine" or stumbling stones in Berlin′s Kreuzberg district, where the capital′s 2000th stumbling stone by artist Gunter Demnig was inaugurated on November 26, 2008. (AFP Photo / Axel Schmidt)
People stand around a cluster of six "Stolpersteine" or stumbling stones in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, where the capital's 2000th stumbling stone by artist Gunter Demnig was inaugurated on November 26, 2008. (AFP Photo / Axel Schmidt)
German artist Gunter Demnig lays "stolpersteine" or stumbling stones in Berlin′s Friedrichstrasse March 27, 2010. (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)
German artist Gunter Demnig lays "stolpersteine" or stumbling stones in Berlin's Friedrichstrasse March 27, 2010. (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)
German artist Gunter Demnig arrives to lay "stolpersteine" or stumbling stones in Berlin′s Friedrichstrasse March 27, 2010. (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)
German artist Gunter Demnig arrives to lay "stolpersteine" or stumbling stones in Berlin's Friedrichstrasse March 27, 2010. (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)