David Shinegold was walking through Beach House Park on Sunday morning when he noticed the 40 notes scattered at the base of the Holocaust Tree of Life.
As part of an annual tradition, attendees of the Holocaust Memorial Day service on Saturday tied cards with their wishes to victims of genocide to the tree.
The 70-year-old said: “I was very sad that somebody should feel that they have to do something like that.
“The messages are expressions of grief and remembrance, and for somebody to do something like that they can’t be a very happy person.”
He gathered up the handwritten cards and took them to his home in Christchurch Road, Worthing, where he dried them on his radiators.
Among the messages were ‘we will remember them’ and ‘peace and humanity for the world’. Mr Shinegold’s great-grandparents, who were from Poland, died in the Holocaust.
He handed over the messages to the mayor of Worthing, Alex Harman, on Monday afternoon.
They will be displayed in the town hall in Chapel Road for a week so people can continue to pay their respects.
Mr Harman was said he was ‘shocked and saddened’ by the news and ‘severely disappointed’ in the culprit: “I would have hoped everybody would respect this is here for those who had not made it through the evil of man. What drives somebody to do this?”
Mr Shinegold said to those responsible: “If you start to think more of yourself, you don’t need to do something like this.”
The mayor was involved in the memorial service on Saturday at 10.30am, where he was joined by pupils from Lancing Prep School, Worthing Borough Council’s armed forces champion Tom Wye, mayor’s chaplain the Rev Brian Penfold and scores of Worthing’s residents.
The wreath laid at the service remained intact.
He said the strong turnout for the service and Mr Shinegold’s actions proved that ‘when something awful happens that none of us would contemplate, there is always someone out there to make it better’.
Mr Harman extended his ‘heartfelt thanks’ to Mr Shinegold and those who attended the service.