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    The central gate of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Auschwitz

    Israeli Man Detained, Fined for Urinating on Memorial at Auschwitz Museum

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    A 19-year-old Israeli man was detained at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum in Poland Wednesday after he was caught urinating on a memorial to the victims of the camp.

    Guards at the museum saw the man urinating on the monument near the crematoria in the Birkenau camp around 1 p.m. local time and called the police. The man was questioned for several hours before being released and agreeing to pay a $1,500 fine, the Jerusalem Post reported.

    He could have gotten far worse: according to Polish law, the man could have been given jail time for desecrating a monument or other public place commemorating an historical event.

    In January, a dozen self-proclaimed anti-war protesters who had slaughtered a sheep, stripped naked and chained themselves to the gates of the camp the previous March were sentenced to jail time and steep fines, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported at the time. Two were given 14 and 18 month jail sentences and the other 10 each paid fines up to $3,000.

    The Auschwitz Museum confirmed the urination incident, calling it "very regrettable," the Times of Israel reported.

    Bartosz Bartyzel, spokesperson for the museum, noted that he cannot remember such an incident involving an Israeli citizen before.

    The concentration camp at Auschwitz was established by the Nazis in 1940 after conquering and annexing large parts of Poland the previous autumn. The environs of the town of Oświęcim became the epicenter of the Nazis' massive genocide of Jews, as well as Roma, Slavs, homosexuals, mentally and physically disabled people, Jehovah's Witnesses and political dissidents.

    Between 1940 and 1945, roughly 1 million people were exterminated at the camp. The large complex, managed by the Nazi SS, included laboring camps, factories and extermination chambers, into which prisoners were sorted upon arrival. The monument desecrated Wednesday was in the attached Birkenau camp, in which the infamous gas chambers and five crematoria disposed of the victims on an industrial scale.

    The camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945. As the Red Army closed in, Nazi officials tried to hide the evidence of their crimes by destroying documents and tearing down some of the crematoria, according to History.com.

    The museum opened on the site in 1947 and since then has seen nearly 1 million visitors every year.

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    Tags:
    Holocaust, monument, desecration, Poland, Auschwitz
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