Students in swastika photo 'learn lesson' from Anne Frank's stepsister

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Police and school authorities in California are investigating after high school students were photographed making Nazi salutes over a swastika formed out of plastic drinking cups.

The photos circulated on social media after apparently being taken at a weekend party involving pupils from a school in the upmarket coastal city of Newport Beach.

In a series of community meetings since the pictures emerged, parents, teachers and pupils have attempted to turn the outrage and disbelief into some momentum for change.

Some of the pupils who were at the party also met privately with Eva Schloss, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp and is the stepsister of diarist Anne Frank.

Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss met with some of the students who were at the party
Image: Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss met with some of the students who were at the party

The 89-year-old Holocaust survivor said the students “didn’t realise what it really meant”.

She said: “I was their age when I realised my life was completely shattered and that I will never have a family again.

“We have to learn from the history and the mistakes that we have made and try to make it a safe and a better world for everybody.

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“They were a little bit drunk I suppose, which they shouldn’t be at that age but it does happen, and I think they really didn’t think about the consequences.

“But I think they have learned a lesson for life. I think actually perhaps it was a good thing that this happened because it has come now in to the open.”

Ms Schloss is the stepsister of Anne Frank
Image: Ms Schloss is the stepsister of Anne Frank, who died when she was 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

But at a community meeting earlier this week, students said the incident was far from an isolated one and that a real problem exists.

Max Drakeford told the gathering of parents, teachers and pupils: “The blame is on all of us. This environment allowed them to feel comfortable enough to do that.”

Of the party photos, student Ben Quong added: “What I’m most concerned about, of the 20 plus people there, nobody stepped up and said anything.”

Hundreds of teachers, parents and pupils have held meetings to discuss the incident
Image: Hundreds of teachers, parents and pupils have held meetings to discuss the incident

Campaigners say there has been an increase in incidents of antisemitic abuse on school and college campuses over the last two years.

Members of the US House of Representatives were this week involved in a bad-tempered debate on Capitol Hill over the passage of a resolution condemning antisemitism and other bigotry.

In California, fellow students of those in the photos say they believe lessons will be learned.

Nate Hall said: “It wasn’t intended to hurt anyone so we’re trying not to chastise them so much than to teach them what they did wrong.”

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