Police are investigating graffiti in both English and German scrawled on the barracks around the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Nine wooden barracks were vandalised in an area of the museum site where there are no CCTV cameras. The crime was discovered by a security guard on Tuesday.
Police are now looking for the person, or people, responsible as vandalising a historic object carries a prison sentence of up to eight years, according to police spokesperson Malgorzata Jurecka.
Court experts are yet to determine if the graffiti is actually anti-semitic – if the authorities decide it is, the criminals could face an additional three years behind bars for hate crime charges.
Museum officials described parts of the graffiti as anti-semitic, and borrowing phrases from Holocaust deniers.
Museum workers and Israel’s Yad Vashem – the official Holocaust memorial – condemned the vandalism on Wednesday and described it as an offence to the 1.1 million people said to have died at the infamous Nazi death camp between 1940 and 1945.
The Nazi victims were made up of European Jews, Poles and Romani people, along with Soviet prisoners of war.
Many died in gas chambers, from starvation, disease or the forced labour imposed on prisoners.
Yad Vashem chairperson Dani Dayan said on Wednesday: “This incident, at such a major and significant site of the atrocities of the Holocaust, constitutes an attack not only on the memory of the victims, but also on the survivors and any person with a conscience.
“It is also yet another painful reminder that more much be done to raise awareness about the Holocaust and to educate the public and the younger generation regarding the dangers of anti-semitism and Holocaust denial and distortion.”
The concentration camp was converted into a museum and memorial shortly after World War II ended.
Before the pandemic, it was an incredibly popular site, and in 2019, it had more than two million visitors.