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Institute decries ‘grotesque’ vandalism to Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s childhood home

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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02: Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel arrives for a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill March 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. Wiesel, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rabbi Scmuley Boteach participated in a discussion entitled "The Meaning of Never Again: Guarding Against a Nuclear Iran." (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Vandals spray-painted hot-pink pejoratives on the childhood home of author, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, according to the institute set up in his honor.

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.”

The vandalism, which happened Friday at the home in Sighetu Marmatiei, near Romania’s northern border with Ukraine, is the subject of a police investigation. There are surveillance cameras in the area, and police have composed a list of suspects, according to a statement from the local county council.

Wiesel challenged presidents, spoke out for justice

Among the Romanian-language insults scrawled on the home was “Jewish Nazi lies in hell with Hitler,” according to photos of the vandalism. There is also a reference to pedophilia, as well as the last names of German (Angela Merkel), American (Donald Trump) and Russian (Vladimir Putin) leaders.

The one-story, baby blue-and-white structure sits on a well-trafficked corner amid shops and flats.

Wiesel chaired the Wiesel Commission, established in 2004 to report on Romania’s involvement in the Holocaust.

He died in 2016 in New York with dozens of books to his name, including “Night,” which detailed his and his family’s time in concentration camps. Wiesel was orphaned in the camps. His mother was killed at Auschwitz, and his father died at Buchenwald.

In awarding him the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel committee called him “one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world.”

“My husband was a fighter,” his wife, Marion, said, upon his death. “He fought for the memory of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and he fought for Israel. He waged countless battles for innocent victims regardless of ethnicity or creed. But what was most meaningful to him was teaching the innumerable students who attended his university classes.”

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