Woman discovers dozen Jewish tombstones smashed at 17th-century French cemetery

A commemorative plaque for a girl who was deported during the Holocaust was also smashed.

By World Israel News Staff

About a dozen gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in France have been smashed, reported AFP on Tuesday.

According to the report, Deborah Loupien-Suares, the head of the Jewish communities of Bayonne and Biarritz in southern France,  discovered the wreckage when she came to visit the graves of her grandparents.

“This is the first time this has happened in Bayonne, where the Jewish community has been perfectly integrated for years,” Loupien-Suares told AFP.

She went on to say how shocked and horrified she was to find “significant damage” to up to 10 tombs at the cemetery” including a commemorative plaque for a girl who was deported during the Holocaust. She also noted that the Catholic cemetery nearby was not damaged.

Bayonne Mayor Jean-Rene Etchegaray has visited the cemetery founded in the 17th-century and an investigation is underway, the report said.

“There is no anti-Semitic graffiti and I don’t want to inflame a debate. I want the investigation to take place calmly,” Loupien-Suares said.

France is no stranger to anti-Semititc incidents.

Last year, over 100 tombstones were defaced with swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti at the cemetery in Westhoffen and 80 tombstones were vandalized with swastikas in the Jewish cemetery of Quatzenheim

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The 67 Jewish cemeteries spread around the rural area of Alsace have largely been abandoned since the Nazis wiped out the region’s Jewish communities.

In October, the Alsace regional council established the “Guardians of Memory” network to protect Jewish cemeteries that have been the target of vandalism over the past few years. They patrol the cemeteries and contact the authorities if any vandalism has been found.