September 22, 2009

Holocaust fancy-dress party provokes criticism

by Benjamin Graham

University authorities in New Zealand have condemned students who held a holocaust-themed party.

Students dressed as Nazi guards and concentration camps inmates at the Oktoberfest party at a Lincoln University halls of residence.

Costumes were emblazoned with slogans including “Sieg Hail!” and “Hitler’s my boi”, while one offended student claimed party-goers were “heiling to Hitler and making tasteless jokes about one of the darkest periods of human history”.

Lincoln vice-chancellor Roger Field apologised for the students’ behaviour, adding that the university will be holding an investigation and “appropriate action” will be taken under student regulations.

“If some of the claims that have been made are correct, then I think some of the behaviour seems to be quite unacceptable,” Field said.

Megan Harte, president of Lincoln University Students’ Association (LUSA), said the complaints were based on a small number of students who misunderstood the event.

“It wasn’t a Holocaust party, it wasn’t a neo-Nazi party at all, it was an Oktoberfest party and some student misinterpreted that theme to mean they could dress in this way, which is questionable,” she said.

New Zealand’s Jewish Council said the party was an “abhorrent demonstration of ignorance”

“It is not the first time and I doubt it will be the last either,” said Stephen Goodman, Jewish Council President.

“In most of the cases we’ve found in New Zealand, it’s generally through a degree of ignorance that this sort of behaviour eventuates. It is not through malicious intent.”

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