Israeli student sent home after exposing buttocks at Nazi death camp

Incident captured on security cameras at Majdanek during Holocaust education trip; second teenager also sent back early

A gas chamber in the former German Nazi death camp Majdanek, in Poland, October 2017 (Matt Lebovic/The Times of Israel)
A gas chamber in the former German Nazi death camp Majdanek, in Poland, October 2017 (Matt Lebovic/The Times of Israel)

An Israeli high school student was caught exposing his buttocks during a Holocaust education trip to the Majdanek death camp site in Poland, prompting organizers to send him, and another student, home early.

The incident, which was captured on security cameras, happened over the weekend.

Security guards at the site, where tens of thousands of Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, detained the two teenagers and accused them of inappropriate behavior. The student who exposed himself was released after paying a fine and his friend was given a warning.

According to some Hebrew-media reports, both pupils had exposed themselves in the incident.

Under Polish law, those who desecrate a monument or other public place commemorating a historical event or a person can be punished with a fine or imprisonment.

In this Nov. 9, 2005 file picture watch towers and a barbed wire fence of the former Nazi death camp Majdanek outside the city of Lublin in eastern Poland are photographed. (Photo credit: AP/ Czarek Sokolowski,file)

Both students, who this fall will enter 12th grade, hailed from a school in the north of the country. They were sent back to Israel early, while the rest of their group is scheduled to return to the country later in the week.

The Education Ministry denounced the behavior of the students in a statement, saying it views the incident “with severity.”

“In the specific case, on the backdrop of inappropriate and unbecoming behavior by the students, significant action was taken against them,” the statement read. “They were returned home, while the educational institution intends to take full disciplinary proceedings against them.”

Every year, tens of thousands of Israeli students travel to Holocaust sites in Poland as on trips organized by their high schools.

Nazi Germany set up the Majdanek death camp on the outskirts of the then-occupied eastern Polish city of Lublin in 1941 and operated it until 1944. It was captured more or less intact by advancing Soviet Union forces, making it the first concentration camp liberated by the Allies.

The camp’s museum says that 78,000 prisoners, including 60,000 Jews, were murdered there — around half of those who passed through the notorious World War II-era camp.

Majdanek has seen several high-profile incidents of theft and desecration.

In 2014, officials said eight shoes of former prisoners were stolen from the museum which holds a total of 280,000 shoes belonging to victims of the camp, with several thousand on display.

A year earlier, a prisoner’s cap stolen from the museum two decades ago was pulled from an eBay auction in the United States where it was valued at $1,750 (1,400 euros).

In 1989, Swedish artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff stole the ashes of Holocaust victims from a Nazi-era crematorium at Majdanek. He triggered outrage in 2012 when a watercolor painting he claims to have created using the ashes went on display at a gallery in Sweden. The painting was eventually removed, but Polish and Swedish justice officials dropped an investigation without pressing charges because of a statute of limitations on the case.

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