Schoolboys agree to tell people of Nazi horrors

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File photo / Herald on Sunday
File photo / Herald on Sunday

Five Auckland secondary school students who made a tearful apology to war veterans for worshipping Nazi symbols, will now teach museum visitors about the horrors of the Nazi regime.

The five students caused outrage when they kissed a swastika, bowed before a Nazi banner and gave a Nazi salute during an Auckland Grammar School visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Pictures of the students which appeared on a social networking website deeply upset museum staff and war veterans.

Today the five students and three school staff went back to the museum, where each student apologised to two war veterans and museum staff.

The two veterans had met the boys on an earlier trip before they paid homage to the Nazi symbols.

Today's meeting was a "very emotional, full-on and quite an intense experience for the boys", said Russell Briggs, the museum's director of communications and technology.

"There were tears in the eyes and it was very emotional. The boys expressed a great deal of sorrow and apologised directly to the veterans for their actions."

Mr Briggs said the museum was happy the apology was genuine and it was a good learning experience for the boys.

"This is the first time it has ever happened and this is decades and decades of working with Auckland Grammar and hundreds of other schools."

Mr Briggs said the boys characterised their actions as an immature prank.

"It was something that got out of control and they didn't understand the effect it would have on their families and their school and the people of New Zealand.

"They apologised to all the people they hurt, including all the people of New Zealand, which I thought was a brave thing to do, and it made me think that they really understood the magnitude of what they had done."

He said the boys would be part of a special project to teach people about Nazi history, including the horrors of the holocaust .

Earlier, the Returned and Services' Association (RSA) said the boys' actions were "profoundly ignorant".

The school refused to comment on the apology or any disciplinary action but headmaster John Morris said in a statement yesterday there was "absolutely no justification for the immature and unthinking action" of the boys.

- NZPA

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