A stone memorial commemorating the life of Holocaust survivor and former minister Simone Veil has been defaced with swastikas, police said, sparking fresh concerns about anti-Semitism in France.
The Veil memorial, in Perros-Guirec in the western region of Brittany, was found smeared with Nazi insignia on Wednesday morning. An investigation has been launched.
Veil, born in 1927, survived the Holocaust to become a famous figure in French politics, fighting for abortion rights, fighting anti-Semitism and also serving as President of the European Parliament.
As a teenager, she was deported to Auschwitz and lost her mother, father and brother in the camps.
Veil died in 2017. The following year, President Emmanuel Macron decreed that she should have the honor of a final resting place in Paris’ Pantheon, which houses the tombs of France’s greatest heroes.
“Simone Veil is a French and global figure in women’s rights, Europe and the fight against anti-Semitism,” wrote young Interior Minister Marlène Schiappa on Twitter. “To degrade its memorial is to disfigure France!” These heinous acts must not go unpunished,” she added.
The memorial, inaugurated in 2017, has been cleaned.
The Ouest-France newspaper said it was the third time the memorial had been targeted in the past week. He had previously been smeared with mustard and excrement.
The vandalism comes at a hugely sensitive time in France following an outcry over a placard displayed during a protest in the eastern city of Metz at the weekend, which police said was clearly anti-Semitic.
The sign denounced Macron’s enforcement of a health pass in France to encourage people to get vaccinated and contained the names of prominent politicians, businessmen and intellectuals in France, mostly Jews.
The teacher suspected of holding up the sign, which has gone viral on social media, will face trial next month for seeking to incite racial hatred.