AMSTERDAM (JTA) — University students in the Netherlands redesigned the dorm room of a Jewish classmate with motifs from a Nazi death camp during the Holocaust, Dutch media reported.
The incident at Leiden University, which was reported Friday by the Dutch daily Volkskrant, involved members of the prestigious Minerva Society, the oldest student association in the Netherlands.
Several seniors are believed to have redesigned the room of a freshman living in the university’s dorms as a prank. According to the Volkskrant, the redesign is a humoristic initiation rite for freshmen in which seniors come up with creative ideas on how to reshape one room.
A video of the room obtained by Volkskrant shows a bare room with mass graves painted on its floor, barbed wire hung on pipes and the German words “Arbeit macht frei” spray-painted on the walls – a reference to the slogan meaning “work makes you free” that Nazis hung on several death and concentration camps.
There were also train tracks painted on the walls in an apparent reference to the trains in which Nazis deported Jews to their deaths. A large Nazi swastika made of sticks also was displayed on one wall.
Some unconfirmed reports said the freshman in question was Jewish, Volkskrant reported.
Max Grapperhaus, the head of the Minerva student association, declined to confirm or deny the reports.
“Whether Jewish guys live there or not, such activities are inappropriate and cannot be tolerated,” he said, according to Volkskrant.
Some residents of the dorm in question have been barred from Minerva events following the incident, which Grapperhaus said was not part of the organization’s official activities, the daily reported.
Leiden is looking into further disciplinary actions, including expulsion, against those responsible for the activity.