Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Most of those who died in the complex of camps at Auschwitz died at the Birkenau extermination camp

Staff at the site of the Auschwitz death camp have condemned the discovery of anti-Semitic vandalism.

Nine barracks were spray-painted with anti-Semitic phrases and slogans denying the Holocaust, according to the Auschwitz memorial and museum.

The discovery on Tuesday was made at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau site, the largest of the 40 camps that made up the Nazi complex.

Police have been informed of the incident and are investigating.

Staff have called on anyone who may have been in the vicinity of the death camp on Tuesday morning and witnessed the incident to contact them, especially anyone with photos taken around the Gate of Death, at the entrance to Birkenau, and the wooden barracks.

The memorial centre said the discovery was "an outrageous attack on the symbol of one of the great tragedies in human history and an extremely painful blow to the memory of all the victims of the German Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau camp".

"As soon as the police have compiled all the necessary documentation, the conservators of the Auschwitz memorial will begin removing traces of vandalism from historical buildings," it added.

The statement noted that while the security system at the 170-hectare site was "constantly being expanded", it was funded from the museum's budget, which had been hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Fully enclosing the site would not be possible for some time, it added.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial preserves the Nazi extermination camp set up on occupied Polish soil by Germany during World War Two.

At least 1.1 million people were murdered at Auschwitz in the four and a half years after it opened in 1940. Almost one million of them were Jews. The majority of the victims were sent to the gas chambers at Birkenau.

While vandalism at the site is rare, in 2010 a Swedish man was jailed for two years and eight months for plotting the theft of the infamous "Arbeit macht frei" sign that hangs over the entrance to the camp.

Earlier this year the wall of a Jewish cemetery near the camp was defaced with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.