A swastika has been painted on Yerevan’s new Holocaust memorial a year after the old and repeatedly vandalized memorial was replaced with this new monument that commemorates the Jewish and Armenian Genocides of the 20th century.
According to the Jerusalem Post:
Unknown vandals defaced a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in central Yerevan last week, scrawling a swastika on the simple stone structure and splattering it with black paint.
The defaced memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in central Yerevan, Armenia. Photo: Michael Freund
Rabbi Gershon Burshtein, a Chabad emissary who serves as Chief Rabbi of the country’s tiny Jewish community, expressed shock upon discovering the vandalism while escorting visitors to the site on Wednesday.
After calling the police and local government officials to inform them of the incident, he said, “I just visited the memorial the other day and everything was fine. This is terrible, as there are excellent relations between Jews and Armenians.”
A senior adviser to Armenian President Robert Kocharian denounced the defacement as “a provocation”, and promised Rabbi Burshtein that it would be taken care of forthwith.
The monument has been defaced and toppled several times in the past few years. It is located in the city’s Aragast Park, a few blocks north of the centrally-located Republic Square, which is home to a number of government buildings.
The text inscribed in Hebrew on the stone reads, “To be or to forget: in memory of the victims of the Holocaust”.
Armenia’s Jewish population is estimated at between 300 and 500 people, most of whom live in the capital of Yerevan.
Photo from Yehudim.am: The new Holocaust Memorial during its opening on October 27, 2006
It is interesting that the Jerusalem Post fails to mention that the Holocaust memorial doesn’t only commemorate the Jewish but also the Armenian Genocide. The dual-commemoration was obviously done with the hope that anti-Semites in Armenia would not dare to vandalize a monument that also honors the Armenian Genocide.
The new vandalism seen in the Jerusalem Post photo is quite minor compared to what was done to the old Holocaust memorial in Yerevan in early 2006.
While the vandalism on the former memorial was most likely organized by a group known as Armenian-Aryans (I remember reading in one of their 2002 or 2003 publications talking about the Holocaust Memorial as something immoral to exist in Armenia), the new vandalism seems to be a work of an individual anti-Semite given the “minor injuries” of the new memorial.
As I have written before, the head of the “Armenian-Aryans” was one of the speakers at the Holocaust denial conference a year ago in Iran.