A private school has issued an apology after students performed Nazi salutes during a play about Hitler.
According to The Times:
The incident at Millfield School in Somerset, which charges up to £14,610 a term for boarders, came hours before the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
The play, Adolf, features the actor and playwright Pip Utton performing in front of a large Nazi flag while dressed as the dictator. Utton, who has previously taken the show to the Edinburgh Fringe, said he had “manipulated” the children at the end of the show, to demonstrate “how easy it is”.
The father of one Jewish pupil said he was horrified to see photos of pupils in the audience laughing while performing Nazi salutes. “It made me feel sick,” he told the Jewish Chronicle. “What on earth were the teachers thinking?
“It would not be appropriate to give this kind of play the green light for schoolchildren at any time, least of all on the eve of Yom Kippur. The school must have known of the content, and if not, it should have. There is no excuse for this disgraceful error of judgment.”
Utton told the newspaper that he had invited the pupils to “thank the technicians because they rarely receive recognition”.
He continued: “I said I wanted them to perform a special show of gratitude by raising their right arms in the air, then bring their hand down to clap their knee.
As their hands went up, I told them: ‘It seemed to work in Berlin.’ I was in no way attempting to glorify that horrible, horrible salute. The point was to show how people can be manipulated and how easy it is.
Believe me, it is shocking for me to see it happen. They got the fact that it was kind of a joke because they were laughing.”
Pupils who complained were told to delete photos they had taken on their phones, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Gavin Horgan, headmaster of Millfield, said pupils should not have been encouraged to “role-play such actions” and added:
“We should not have staged this play. We are sorry for the hurt that has been caused and we have changed our approach to vetting performances so that this will never happen again.”