From ANDREW DRUMMOND, Bangkok
September 26 2011
Students in a school in the northern Thai capital of Chiang Mai thought they would give their teachers and parents a surprise on their Summer Sports Day.
They kept their secret under wraps until the day was upon them and then with flourish and a fanfare they arrived to gasps and groans from within the crowd.
Leading the march into the sports ground was Adolf Hitler replete with toothbrush moustache followed seconds later by his squad of rather effiminate SS guards with plastic machine guns.
Foreign parents and teachers reeled under the shock of the sheer bad taste of the exhibition and once again Thailand’s education system took a knock. Didn’t the students still know what the Swastika and Nazis represent? The answer is they clearly did not. Not even some of the Thai teachers.
As a result, a delegation from the consulates of Britain, the United States, France, and Germany today (Monday) went to the school to protest. They left after the school authorites said they had been kept in the dark over the students’ plan and insisted that no offence was intended.
A foreign English language teacher at the Sacred Heart Catholic School in Chiang Mai said: ‘It was all very embarrassing. Traditionally the students wear fancy dress on the summer sports day and they like to keep everything they are preparing quiet. Nobody saw any swastikas around the school before the event.
‘But then on sports day when we saw these Nazi storm troopers we were appalled. We told the Thai teachers that this was not on. But even they did not understand what was wrong with the display.’
A British parent said: ‘It could have been worse. They could have been marching to the ‘Horst Wessel Song or ‘Bomb Oh Bombs on England.’
A school spokesman said: “We did not know what the students had planned. This is a bit unfortunate but no offence was intended. We explained to the consular representatives.”
It’s not the first time this has happened in Thailand.
In 2007 a director of Thewphaingarm School in Bangkok, Kanya Khemanan, was forced to apologise to the Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Centre after a similar incident in which 200 students dressed up as Nazis for the Summer Sports day, and strutted around Seig Heiling.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center complained: ‘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.’