Jewish cemetery in Vienna targeted with swastika daubings, arson

Vienna’s Mayor, Michael Ludwig, described himself as ‘shaken’ by the attack on the cemetery.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

The Jewish cemetery in Vienna was targeted by unknown attackers on Wednesday morning, with swastikas and the name “Hitler” daubed on its outer walls and a fire lit in the ceremonial hall were funerals are held.

Firefighters were called to tackle the blaze, which did not result in any injuries, the head of the city’s Jewish community, Oskar Deutsch, said on the X/Twitter social media platform.

Julia Schick, a police spokesperson in the Austrian capital, said it was currently unclear how the attackers had been able to break into the cemetery.

In tandem with other countries in Europe, antisemitism has risen precipitously in Austria since the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel. The country has raised its terrorism level warning and is now deploying police officers outside Jewish communal buildings, following criticism that law enforcement responded too slowly to the ramifications of the atrocities in Israel when an Israeli flag flown in solidarity was torn down outside a Vienna synagogue.

Despite the harassment, the Jewish community continues to express support for Israel along with the demand that Hamas release the more than 200 hostages seized during the atrocities. Deutsch encouraged supporters to attend a rally for the hostages on Thursday night at Vienna’s Heldenplatz to “set an example against antisemitism and hatred, for an end to attacks on Israel, Judaism and democracy, and for the liberation of all the hostages.”

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Austrian politicians condemned the attack on the cemetery.

“Antisemitism has no place in our society and will be fought against by any political and legal means necessary,” Chancellor Karl Nehammer said.

Opposition leader Andreas Babler of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) declared: “The protection of the Jewish community is of the highest priority. We stand side by side with Jews. ‘Never again’ is now.”

Federal President Alexander Van Der Bellen observed that the “number of antisemitic incidents in Austria has increased significantly in recent weeks. That has to stop.”

Vienna’s Mayor, Michael Ludwig, described himself as “shaken” by the attack on the cemetery. “Peaceful and respectful living together is a top priority in our city,” he said. “It is our historic obligation to protect Jewish life and Jewish institutions.”