Based on discussion in this thread:
I've also verified this behavior on http://demo.dspace.org (currently running 5.2). Here's how to easily replicate the behavior:
1. Create an Item
2. Run the OAI-PMH import (./dspace oai import).
3. The item now appears in OAI-PMH
4. Withdraw that Item
5. Re-Run the OAI-PMH import (./dspace oai import)
6. The Item still appears in OAI-PMH and is NEVER flagged as withdrawn.
So, you can still access all its metadata, etc. The ONLY way to trigger an update to the OAI-PMH record (of the withdrawn item) is to re-import EVERYTHING (./dspace oai import -c). However, as noted, since withdrawn items are not included in the XOAI "indexAll()" command, the item will now disappear from OAI-PMH entirely.
Here's that XOAI.indexAll() command:
This behavior seems to be counter to what is documented at:
The documentation specifically states that "DSpace keeps a permanent record of withdrawn items". It also states that a request for a withdrawn item "will yield the 'record deleted' header". Neither of these statements is true as withdrawn items are never indexed, and public items are never updated once withdrawn.