Children from a German school in Buenos Aires wearing swastika armbands and fake Hitler moustaches attacked pupils from a Jewish school in a resort where several Nazi war criminals lived for decades after the Second World War, including Dr Josef Mengele, Auschwitz’s “Angel of Death”.
The incident drew swift condemnation for the pupils and the parents who were accompanying them during the school’s end-of-course trip to San Carlos de Bariloche, in the Andes.
The town became a haven for fleeing Nazis who were welcomed by the sympathetic Peronist regime.
According to witnesses, pupils from the Lanús German School arrived at a party in a nightclub dressed as Nazis.
“Some of them were in leathers with swastikas painted on their chests and backs,” Dan, one of the students who was attacked, told Argentina’s TN television channel.
“We wanted them to be thrown out of the club but they shouted ‘f—— Jews’ at us and proudly showed off their symbols.”
When bouncers at the club refused to eject the pupils in fancy dress, there was a “confrontation” which turned into a fight, according to Dan.
The boys dressed as Nazis were finally expelled from the club.
Silvia Fazio, the principal of the Lanús German School, apologized, saying the incident was “absolutely indefensible” and that the children involved would be punished.
“They will have to make some act of atonement for the damage caused,” said Ms Fazio, starting with a visit to Buenos Aires’s Holocaust museum alongside students from the Jewish school.
“There is much to reflect on,” she added.
She stressed that the trip to San Carlos de Bariloche was not organized by the school, but arranged privately.
“There were many adults who made mistakes, such as the parents who were with the children, the trip coordinators [and] the club staff.”
However, Ariel Cohen Sabban, president of the Argentinian Delegation of Israelite Associations, said: “We think the real root of the problem is in what goes on at the institution these boys attend, because these kind of attitudes must be prevented by educational means.
“This is not a joke or a laugh. These symbols reflect an ideology that culminated in the Nazis’ assassination of six million Jews.”
He said if the boys involved are aged 16 or over, they could face prosecution for using Nazi symbols and propagating theories of racial superiority.
Adrián Moscovich, executive director of Buenos Aires’s ORT school whose pupils were victims in the attack, said the incident underlined the importance of continuing to teach children about the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity.
He said that “reflecting on these facts is a vital exercise in order to understand the present and build a future in which democratic and pluralist values are consolidated.”