Children in German School Use Nazi Greetings, Post Anti-Semitic Jokes
A high school class in Germany is being investigated after some of its 29 students allegedly used ‘Heil Hitler’ salutes to greet each other and posted anti-Semitic jokes on the instant messaging-application WhatsApp, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.
Students in class 9A at the Landsberg Gymnasiums near Leipzig regularly made anti-Jewish slurs on the messaging app while praising Hitler as a “great man,'” according to local media reports. One message from a student included the Holocaust joke, “Why did Hitler kill himself? The Jews sent him the gas bill.”
German authorities are investigating two teenagers in the matter and their WhatsApp conversations have been handed over to police and prosecutors. A more thorough examination will begin next week when the school reopens after the half-term break. Any public display of Nazi symbols, salutes or phrases is forbidden in Germany and can carry a first offense penalty of up to six months in jail.
Photos also appeared in Germany’s biggest newspaper BILD on Tuesday showing the 14 and 15-year-old students giving Nazi salutes and wearing stick-on Hitler-like mustaches. Media reports said a psychologist has been placed at the school to meet with the teachers, students and their parents next week in the hopes of getting some answers.
Parents of students in class 9A are outraged and believe the media is tarnishing the reputation of all 29 children. They also pointed out the unlikelihood that the entire class of teenagers would be involved.
“These discussions about the Nazi class from Landsberg are a load of rubbish,” said Eli Gampel, 54, who has a son in the class. “I thought it was a bad dream when I opened newspapers and read the article.”
Gampel, the former head of the local Halle Jewish Community, added that his son has experienced harassment at the school.
“My son told me that someone had stuck a far-right NPD [National Democratic Party] sticker on his jacket. It was well known it seems that he was Jewish,” he said. “I have made a formal complaint with police for an investigation, but on the other hand it would definitely be the wrong thing to simply accuse the entire class and tar them with the same brush.”
Gampel said it seems like there is a taboo against anyone in the class, including his son, talking about the Neo-Nazi students. He explained, “Even after I read about it, I found it difficult to get him to talk about what went on. It was only through a lengthy discussion that he admitted what was in the newspaper article was essentially true.”
The school’s headmaster Lutz Feudel said the institution had been shocked to find out about the kind of behavior exhibited by the Nazi sympathizers, which he said were confined to one class. He added that an investigation into the matter will be difficult because the autumn recess has already started. He was also reluctant to judge the students, saying, “Breaking taboos is part of young adulthood. I don’t believe that they wanted to actively promote neo-Nazi ideology.”
Feudel said two of the students and their parents were invited to a discussion, but that a third who they wanted to speak with was on vacation in Spain.
All of the students in 9A, like all children in Germany, have visited a Nazi concentration camp and regularly learn about the excesses of the Third Reich in classes, according to the Daily Mail.