The fallout from Friday’s “Nazi rally” at a Taiwan high school continues with the resignation of the school’s principal.
Cheng Hsiao-ming (程曉銘), the head of Kuang-fu High School in northern Taiwan’s Hsinchu City, said yesterday that he took “full responsibility” and apologized for the shocking costumes on display at the school’s annual Christmas parade.
Images from the parade went viral over the weekend. They show at least a dozen students dressed in black Nazi uniforms with red swastika armbands on their sleeves, waving Nazi flags, holding Nazi symbols and reportedly shouting “Sieg Heil!” at one student saluting inside a cardboard tank.
“As educators, we should have taught students to have the right values. We will learn from the mistakes we made and have asked students to do so too,” Cheng said.
While Cheng stated that school had made a list of personnel responsible for the incident, he asked that the students themselves not be blamed as they had already been put under a tremendous amount of stress. Cheng said that he has taken the first step by resigning from his post and will accept whatever punishment the Ministry of Education deems appropriate.
He added that he plans to continue teaching, dedicating himself to spreading awareness about important historical events.
Meanwhile, Liu Hsi-cheng (劉習正), a history and homeroom teacher, has expressed remorse over the incident, adding that he hopes the public will give his students a second chance. Liu said that his students deeply regret their actions and believe they should all be held responsible since it was a collective decision to dress up as Nazis.
He explained that the cosplay event on Friday was meant to celebrate the school’s founding. Each class was asked to dress up as important historical figures from the past. In a class vote, Liu’s students chose Adolf Hitler.
Liu says that he tried to warn his students that Hitler is a controversial figure, questioning whether they really wanted to go with a Nazi theme. The Taipei Times reports that Liu even suggested using Arabic culture as the the theme instead.
But following a second class vote, Hitler still came out on top.
Looking back, Liu admits that he should have immediately rejected the decision.
Unsurprisingly, the photos provoked considerable outrage and disgust, prompting rebukes from both Israeli and German officials in Taipei.
“It is deplorable and shocking that only seven decades after the world witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust, a high school in Taiwan is supporting such an outrageous action,” the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei said in a statement.
Responding to the outrage on Saturday, the Presidential Office demanded that the high school apologize to Israel over the incident, saying that it showed an extreme lack of respect to the Jewish people and a profound ignorance regarding recent history. The Ministry of Education also threatened to cut funding to the private school.
The school has since apologized, explaining that it had failed to perform the necessary reviews before holding the event. It promised that such an incident would not happen again in the future, adding that it values peace and understanding and does not condone Nazism.
In addition, Cheng said that the school would hold a series of educational programs for the students’ benefit, including showing films about the Holocaust such as “Schindler’s List” and “Life is Beautiful.” The Israel Economic and Cultural Office will also be invited to address the students.