23 August 2011
In Germany, a slight rise in anti-Semitic crimes has been noted in the second quarter of 2011, according to the federal government. From April to June, 215 incidents were registered by police, including four acts of violence against Jews and 41 cases of anti-Semitic hate propaganda. Three victims were injured in attacks. Five people were temporarily arrested and criminal investigations opened against 106 persons. In the first quarter of 2011, a total of 211 anti-Semitic crimes were registered across Germany.
Meanwhile, vandals struck Europe's largest Jewish cemetery in Berlin, stealing metal objects from graves. Jewish leaders in the city are now asking metal dealers in the region to check for wrought-iron objects that might have been stolen from the Weißensee graveyard, where 115,000 Jews were laid to rest between 1880 and 1998. Vandals recently damaged 16 graves and stole 47 items from Weißensee , located in the former eastern part of the German capital. Renovations on some of the tombs had been completed as recently as last April. The stolen items are worth about US$ 16,000.
"However, the immaterial damage is much greater," the Jewish Community said in a statement on Monday. "Theft in general is a serious offense," Grigory Kristal, head of cultural affairs for the community, was quoted by JTA as saying. "But to destroy graves at the Jewish cemetery demonstrates a lack of respect and lack of understanding of the past."
Observers suggested the motive was profit and not anti-Semitism since specifically metal objects were removed. Such thefts reportedly are on the rise at cemeteries all over Berlin, from all religious denominations. Police patrols and surveillance have been stepped up at Weißensee. The community plans to contact metal dealers to warn them to be vigilant regarding sellers of potentially stolen goods.
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