High School Invokes Nazi Imagery for Fun: A Blight on the Education System

An article on China Times said it was another example of the failure of Taiwan’s education system when it comes to teaching history.

Students at a private high school in Hsinchu County decided to celebrate Christmas by dressing up as Nazi SS officers while waving Nazi flags and holding up Swastika banners.

The Presidential Palace ordered the school to issue an apology.

The school issued the apology, and said that the students were only representing “a historical character set” (perhaps better translated as “caricature”.), and were not supporting the atrocities committed by the regime. School authorities urged the public not to blame the students, who made the choice to dress up as Nazis.

Israel’s representative office issued a condemnation and wrote on its Facebook page:

“It is deplorable and shocking that seven decades only after the world had witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust, a high-school in Taiwan is supporting such an outrageous action as we witnessed yesterday at Hsinchu Kuang-Fu Senior High School.

Schools should educate for tolerance and understanding among people, and we are deeply disappointed that this took place in Taiwan, where the International Holocaust Remembrance Day has been marked for the first time less than a year ago, with the active participation of then President, Ma Ying-jeou.

We strongly condemn this tasteless occurrence and call on the Taiwanese authorities, in all levels, to initiate educational programs which would introduce the meaning of the Holocaust and teach its history and universal meaning. Israel would support such endeavors as may be necessary.”

The German representative office also filed a complaint.

The education minister, Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) issued an apology, and urged all schools to take a lesson from the incident. The education bureau cut the school’s funding.

December 25 Controversy Continues

The controversy continued to reverberate Christmas Day. School Principal Cheng Xiaoming (程曉銘) resigned at a press conference held early this afternoon. He apologized and took full responsibility for the incident. He urged the public not to put too much blame on the students and teacher involved, as they are already ‘under overwhelming pressure.’

Professor Benson Yeh
National Taiwan University Department of Electrical Engineering Professor Benson Yeh. Picture: Prof.Yeh Facebook.

National Taiwan University Department of Electrical Engineering Professor Benson Yeh (葉丙成) said that ignorance was not the problem. The students know who Hitler is. The problem is lack of ‘sense’. Professor Yeh spoke about the exam-oriented education system that forces students to memorize facts. He said cutting the school’s funding won’t solve the problem. The problem can only be solved by changing the education system.

Taipei Municipal Chung Cheng High School Principal Feili Chien (簡菲莉) made similar comments when asked about the issue at the Taipei Parents Forum, pointing out that time constraints led to the teaching of historical facts, but not interpretation.

Students at a school in Hsinchu County dress as Nazi SS troops just for fun
Students at a private school in Hsinchu County, Taiwan dress as Nazi soldiers to celebrate Christmas, 2016.

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