CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — A student at a Johannesburg private school who mimicked Adolf Hitler on "Moustache Day" and gave a Nazi salute has apologized, the school’s headmaster said.
Roger Cameron, headmaster of St. John’s College, in a letter that appears on the school’s website wrote that the boy, as well as the prefect who was managing the process, "have apologised for the insensitivity and hurt." The letter also said that the school also "apologises unreservedly for the offense caused by this incident.
The boy had gone on stage recently sporting a moustache and hairstyle similar to Hitler and performed the Nazi salute. Most of the students laughed, and more than half stood up and returned the salute, according to reports.
A Jewish student at St. John’s, a Christian school for boys from nursery school to high school, wrote an emotional letter to Cameron saying that as a Jewish boy who lost family to the Nazis, he was disgusted, according to the Sunday Times of South Africa. The boy said he broke down after the incident and had to leave school early due to the "pain and hurt inside me." He said he didn’t want the offending students to be sanctioned, but wanted them to understand that their behavior was unacceptable.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the community’s umbrella body, and the Johannesburg branch of the South African Holocaust and Genocide Centre met with the school administration on June 8. Cameron told the Times that the school had immediately begun the process of educating the boys about the incident that had caused "much distress and anger among staff, boys and our wider community."
Wendy Kahn of the Board of Deputies said her group was working with the school "to find constructive ways to help teach pupils tolerance."