Students at a private high school in Hsinchu City yesterday sparked outrage after photographs of them in Nazi costumes at a cosplay event a day earlier went viral on the Internet.
Photos of a class at Hsinchu Kuang Fu High School wearing costumes resembling Nazi uniforms and carrying swastika banners were shared on Professional Technology Temple (PTT), the nation’s largest online academic bulletin board, triggering an outcry from representative offices, government officials and netizens, with some saying the incident yet again showed Taiwan’s ignorance of international affairs.
A photo among those that were previously posted to Facebook showed students dressed as Nazi soldiers standing in formation, while another one showed a student riding in a tank made of cardboard boxes and performing a Nazi salute.
Photo: Screengrab from Facebook
The Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei issued a statement criticizing the event.
“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,” Israeli Representative to Taiwan Asher Yarden wrote on the mission’s Facebook page. “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.”
The German Institute Taipei also issued a statement on Facebook.
“Sadly, the students clearly do not understand that the Nazi symbol stands for disregard for human rights and oppression,” it said.
The Presidential Office said the incident was “regrettable” and “disappointing.”
“We feel it is extremely disrespectful to the Jewish people who had been victims of the oppression perpetrated during wars, but more importantly, it highlighted ignorance about history,” the Presidential Office said in a statement. “The responsibility of an education facility is to teach students that peace and diversity did not come easily. The freedom of thinking should be based on justice and respect, rather than misconduct.”
“Education authorities should require the school to shoulder responsibility by seriously reflecting on the incident, understand and improve education in related fields of study and apologize to the countries it offended,” it added.
The Ministry of Education expressed “astonishment and regret,” while Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) apologized over the incident, urging all schools in Taiwan to learn a lesson from the incident.
The ministry said it would visit the school to look into the incident, assist in improving education programs and would punish the school over an “administrative negligence of duty.”
The ministry would also cut subsidies for the school, it said.
Netizens on PTT also expressed outrage.
“No wonder Taiwan is ranked the third-most ignorant country in the world,” a netizen said, an apparent reference to results of this year’s Perils of Perception Survey by UK-based market research organization Ipsos MORI, which ranked Taiwan third on an “ignorance index” after India and China.
“It is incredible that no teachers prevented the incident,” another netizen said.
The school later yesterday apologized for the incident.
The school said it failed to carefully review the students’ plans for the event, but added that it does not support the violence committed by the Nazis.
The school said it assumed responsibility for the students’ improper behavior, adding that it would improve its standards and help students to gain a broader global view.
Additional reporting by CNA
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