Vandals spray painted Nazi swastikas on hundreds of war graves at a cemetery the Netherlands, where 664 British soldiers and one Dutch soldier are buried.
Police said Friday the desecration at Mierlo, near the southern city of Eindhoven, comes as the Netherlands marks the 75th anniversary of the start of its Allied liberation from the Nazis.
“We take the matter very seriously and have started an extensive investigation,” police said, adding that they were probing possible further incidents of vandalism in the town.
Almost every gravestone has been daubed with letters and a giant swastika has been daubed on the wall of the chapel. “It is not just a bit, everything has been covered,” an Omroep Brabant reporter told Dutch News.nl “There is a letter on nearly every gravestone. It is unbelievable.”
The reporter described the daubings as “English gibberish.” One text reads “UK + Ned blood sing.” Words sprayed on the central war memorial include “UK boss,” “connect head” and “wife.” Another text on the back of gravestones reads “false flag” Elsewhere “MH17 lies” has been sprayed on a wall.
Op het ‘Mierlo War Cemetery’ in #Mierlo zijn vannacht diverse graven en monumenten beklad. We nemen de zaak zeer serieus en zijn een uitgebreid onderzoek gestart. Daarbij kunnen we tips goed gebruiken! pic.twitter.com/cRIZ5YPJyA
— Politie Oost-Brabant (@politieob) September 13, 2019
On Monday the graveyard is due to host a ceremony to mark operation Market Garden. Hundreds of soldiers died in eastern Brabant on September 17 1944 as part of that campaign to liberate the Netherlands.
The Commonwealth Graves Commission said it is appalled by the vandalism and is working to put the damage right. “We are also liaising closely with local police to try and prevent any further damage to the site,” the organisation said.
CWGC is appalled to learn that further vandalism has occurred at Mierlo War Cemetery, the final resting place of 664 Commonwealth soldiers and one Dutch soldier from #WW2. Read more: https://t.co/CNeSfHlbwE pic.twitter.com/PKWoUS7FYC
— WarGravesCommission (@CWGC) September 13, 2019
Britain’s Prince Charles is due to visit the country later this month to mark the Battle of Arnhem, where more than 1,400 Allied soldiers died in the ill-fated plan to seize bridges in the Netherlands in mid-September 1944, which Allied commanders had hoped would give them a quick way of ending the war in Europe.
AFP contributed to this story