Desecration of Jewish graves amongst antisemitic vandalism in Denmark

Vandals have desecrated more than 80 graves at a Jewish cemetery in the central Jutland town of Randers, police said on Sunday.

Desecration of Jewish graves amongst antisemitic vandalism in Denmark
Over 80 Jewish gravestones were desecrated in Randers. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

“More than 80 gravestones were daubed with green graffiti and some were overturned” at the Østre Kirkegard cemetery, according to a police statement.

“There are no symbols or words written on the gravestones but paint has been daubed on them,” news agency Ritzau quoted police spokesman Bo Christensen as saying.

Police said a complaint had been made Saturday.

“The attacks at the weekend… are both an attack against Danish Jews and against all of us,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a Facebook message.

“Our Jewish citizens must be respected and not live in fear,” she added.

Many other antisemitic attacks were carried out in Denmark over the weekend, according to members of the Jewish community, including a Star of David painted onto the letter box of a family in the western town of Silkeborg.

The vandalism happened on the anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht anti-Jewish attacks in Nazi Germany, a fact that one Jewish community leader said was “proof that the state of mind which led to the Holocaust exists in 2019”.

The Randers burial ground dates back to the early 19th century when the town's 200-strong Jewish community was Denmark's largest outside the capital Copenhagen, which is today home to most of the country's 6,000 Jews.

Copenhagen's Great Synagogue was targeted in a 2015 shooting which saw one security officer killed after an earlier attack on a conference on freedom of expression also left one person dead.

Five police were injured in the twin attacks which saw police gun down 22-year-old perpetrator Omar El-Hussein, a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin.

Both 2017 and 2018 saw 45 antisemitic attacks registered throughout the country.

READ ALSO: Denmark jails man for defacing gravestones with 'number of the beast'

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‘Pure Nazism’: The antisemitic organization that wants to get a foothold in Denmark

The Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), which hit headlines after antisemitic vandalism at a Jewish burial site in Denmark, is an organization with ‘pure Nazism’ as its ideology, an expert has said.

'Pure Nazism': The antisemitic organization that wants to get a foothold in Denmark
Supporters of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement in Stockholm in 2018. Photo: TT News Agency/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The group has set itself out from other far-right organizations by adopting traditional Nazi ideology, anthropologist Tina Wilchen Christensen, an extremism researcher at Aarhus University, told Ritzau.

“They have the old Nazi message that all bad things are caused by Jews and Judaism,” Christensen said.

While other far-right groups focus much of their attention on Islam, NRM, or Nordfront as it is also known in Denmark, is a proponent of “pure Nazism”, according to the researcher.

“With regard to NRM, they are antisemitic and holocaust deniers, they have summer camps for people in the movement, and they have the Nazi family view in that women are encouraged to stay at home and have a lot of children,” she said.

“There are many levels on which it’s pure Nazism,” she said.

On Wednesday, two men were remanded in custody for desecrating 84 gravestones at Østre Kirkegård cemetery in the town of Randers last weekend.


One of the two arrested men is 38-year-old Jacob Vullum Andersen, leader of a local NRM section, Ritzau reports.

Andersen previously denied links between NRM and the vandalism but said he supported several of last weekend's antisemitic incidents, which also included graffiti and yellow Star of David stickers placed at the home of a Jewish couple in Silkeborg.

The yellow Star of David is the symbol Jews were forced to wear by Nazi authorities during World War Two.

Both accused men have denied carrying out the Randers vandalism and the group denies links to the incident.

The NRM movement emerged in Sweden in the late 1990s but did not attempt to establish itself in Denmark until recent years.

“This has gone on for a long time in Sweden, since 1997. In Denmark it has probably been more on-off. I’ve not come across them in Denmark but I know from other researchers that they have been trying to establish themselves (here),” Christensen said.

Sweden has seen demonstrations held by the group in several cities and with hundreds of participants.

According to its own website, the Danish branch of the organization has attempted to spread propaganda at schools.

Christensen said she did not know how many members the group has in Denmark, but said its Danish branch has a “general strategy of spreading propaganda”.

She noted that NRM demonstrations in other countries have resulted in violence.