Thai school apologizes to Jewish organization for Nazi celebration

By Matthew Streib, AP

BANGKOK, Thailand — A Thai school has apologized to an international Jewish human rights organization for its sponsorship of a celebration that involved a Nazi-themed parade, according to an announcement received Wednesday.

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a press release that a group of students at Thewphaingarm School in Bangkok chose to dress as Nazis on sports day, an annual event held in September that divides students into teams.

Photos from the event showed about 200 students — between the ages of 6 and 18 — dressed in red outfits with swastikas on their baseball caps behind a large sign with “NAZI” in shoulder-high letters.

Some students at the school — which also offers an English-language curriculum — wore elaborately stylized stormtrooper uniforms, carried fake rifles or performed the “sieg heil” salute.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote a letter to the school earlier this month, protesting that such activity mocks the memory of victims of Nazi aggression and has no place in an educational institution.

“We are long past the time when such incidents take place in Asia that can be excused due to ‘alleged’ ignorance of the Nazis’ atrocities during World War II,” the letter said.

According to the center, school director Kanya Khemanan responded with an apology, saying that the Nazi celebration happened mainly due to a lack of oversight.

The teacher responsible has been removed from his position and the school has since held lectures and discussions on the Holocaust, the center said, citing Kanya’s letter.

Calls to the Thewphaingarm School went unanswered Wednesday.