American Yeshiva Boy Gets Suspended Sentence For Vandalism At Auschwitz


A Polish court has given a suspended one-year sentence to a 17-year-old American for scratching his name into the barracks at the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Polish news agency PAP reported that the teenager was detained in July for inscribing his name on one of the interior walls at the memorial site after being caught by a guide.

Identified only as Raphael A., 17, he was also ordered Monday to pay 1,000 zlotys ($280) to the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum.

Judge Konrad Gwozdziewicz said the sentence was light because the defendant was young, had no previous convictions and showed remorse.

PAP also reported that the judge expressed surprise that “the act was committed by someone who attends a religious school for future rabbis.”



  1. Vandalism is vandalism. No doubt. When perpetrated by an otherwise Torah observant individual, it’s certainly worse. However, I can also understand the sense of nekamah – i.e. נצח ישראל לא ישקר – which likely overcame him.

  2. Borrowed term. Admittedly not perfectly accurate translation. Perhaps irony is a better term. I mean to say, he is saying, “We are here! In spite of all ‘your’ efforts” As is ועצת השם היא תקום. Like the chasidisheh hats being made in Czechoslovakia or the bekeshehs in Hungary.