Austria Sends Man to Prison for Defacing Dozens of Holocaust Memorials

The prosecution claims that the homeless man was motivated by Nazi ideology, while his defense team says he was merely frustrated with the government.

The memorial to the 65,000 murdered Austrian Jews in the Holocaust at Judenplatz in Vienna.
Wikimedia Commons / Hans Peter Schaefer

Austrian court on Friday sentenced a homeless man to five years in prison for vandalizing dozens of Holocaust memorials, AFP reported.

The unnamed 40-year-old man was charged with 53 separate acts of vandalism, which included the destruction of a monument to euthanasia victims and the smearing of black paint on a memorial to members of the resistance five times, the French news agency reported. The man also defaced 10 brass plaques honoring people murdered by the Nazis.

The prosecutors are quoted in the AFP report as saying that the man also painted Nazi symbols on schools, student halls and offices of political parties from 2013 to 2015, with the total damage estimated at $103,000.

The Salzburg court found him guilty in most of the incidents, court spokesman Martin Pfarrkirchner told the Austria Press Agency. But the prosecutors say they will appeal the ruling.

The prosecution said that the man was motivated by Nazi ideology, while his defense team claimed that he was simply frustrated with the government because he was denied access to homeless shelters. "He had a grudge against the state," defense lawyer Joerg Dostal is quoted as saying to the court in the AFP report.