Unidentified individuals spray-painted offensive graffiti on the external walls of a museum for Elie Wiesel in Romania, where he was also born, in what police said was an anti-Semitic incident.

The fluorescent pink graffiti that was painted on the Memorial House Elie Wiesel in Sighet in eastern Romania read “public toilet” and “Nazi Jew lying in hell with Hitler” as well as “Anti-Semite paedophile.”

The Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania called the damage “grotesque” and asked investigators “to treat this incident with maximum severity with maximum responsibility.”
It is “not just an attack on Elie Wiesel’s memory, but on all the victims of the Holocaust,” said the statement from institute CEO Alexandru Florian.

The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry said it “firmly condemns any anti-Semitic gestures and any behaviour or expression that promotes intolerance and xenophobia.”

Police are investigating the incident, which they consider an anti-Semitic hate crime, but have no suspects in custody, the news site Sighet247 reported Saturday.

“What was done is unforgivable,” said Chaim Chesler, co-founder of Limmud FSU. Chesler’s group, which sets up cultural events for Jews across the former Soviet Union and other places where many Russian-speaking Jews live, was responsible for the 2016 memorial march for Wiesel in Sighet. “Elie is a symbol for all Holocaust survivors and that makes this incident especially painful. Everything must be done so that such cases do not repeat themselves.”

Elie Wiesel was known as “the world’s most famous Holocaust survivor”. He grew up in Sighet, Romania with his parents and three sisters. In 1940, Hungary annexed Sighet and forced the Jewish people into ghettos where his family lived until 1944 when they were moved to Auschwitz. Elie’s younger sister and mother were killed on arrival at the camp (as were 90% of all those brought there) and his father was beaten to death by a German soldier just weeks before they were liberated. Elie survived the camp along with his sister.

Elie was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, at which time the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a “messenger to mankind”, delivering a message “of peace, atonement and human dignity” to humanity.

He was also a friend of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and spoke at our events in the US. In 2015, CUFI honoured Elie Wiesel with our organisation’s highest honour, the “Defender of the Faith” award.

Speaking at one of our ‘A Night to Honour Israel’ events, Elie said, “When I hear that Christians are getting together in order to defend the people of Israel, of course, it brings joy to my heart. And it simply says, look, people have learned from history.”

Elie Wiesel died on the morning of 2 July 2016 at his home in Manhattan, aged 87. His wife Marian was by his side.