By Jordan Zaitchik
B’nai Brith Canada
While Argentinian-Jewish high school students were enjoying their graduation festivities at a costume party hosted in a nightclub, little did they know that their party would be crashed by Nazis.
That’s right: Nazis. That would be 50 students from another high school dressed as Nazis, who not only crashed, but picked fights with the Jewish students.
According to La Nación, students from ORT, a Jewish high school in Buenos Aires, were assaulted in a Bariloche nightclub by students from Lanús, a German high school also in Buenos Aires.
Both schools organized a graduation trip throughout Bariloche, a tourist city in southwestern Argentina, which included a costume party at Cerebro de Bariloche nightclub.
The Lanús students entered the club with large coats hiding their costumes. The students dressed as Nazis wearing Swastika armbands and Hitlerian mustaches painted on their faces. Soon after entering the club, the Jewish students found themselves approached by a mob of Nazis. The Nazi-dressed students approached the Jewish students and called them “f**ing Jews” before aggressively shoving them fighting broke out soon after.
The students from the German school were let into the club despite their Hitler mustaches, the club’s security tried to warn the students to stop fighting but had to break them up, fortunately no injuries were reported. Many parents were confused why the security let the Nazi-dressed students into the club at all and why it took them so long to respond to the situation.
One of the mothers of the Jewish students told Rádio Latina, “at a certain point in the night, young people came wearing swastikas and had painted-on Hitler mustaches. My son and his friends complained and asked that they be taken out, but all the club management did was demand that the mustaches be washed off and that the swastikas be removed.”
Parents of the Jewish students have since condemned the club management for letting the Nazi-dressed students into the club.
“I’m disgusted with what happened. The school actively fought any manifestation of this kind. Germany still carries social embarrassment of what happened in the Second World War,” said Alejandra Maggiorini, mother of one of Lanús’ graduating students.
In a public statement, Nestor Denoya, president of the Association of Student Tourism said that this “was clearly a provocation to the Jewish school, because they had already agreed on several bowling alleys and knew each other. They had shared activities together and in fact, were in neighboring hotels.”
Speaking to local media, Adrian Moscovich, executive director of the Jewish ORT school expressed his disapproval of Lanús and “any situation of discrimination and intolerance.” He went on to stress the “importance of continuing to work in clarifying what happened in the Shoah and all crimes against humanity. ”
Silvia Fazio, executive director of the German school of Lanús expressed her commitment to “work together in various educational projects” with ORT to address issues of racism and antisemitism. Fazio spoke to Radio Jai where she publicly apologized for the attacks. “Students should understand that it is wrong, (they) should understand that this cannot happen again and that is absolutely reprehensible.”
Tour company Baxtter organized the trips including the costume party which was composed of 1600 students. The aggressors from Lanús were removed from the trip for their antisemitic attack. The mayor of Bariloche spoke to local news, he said that this is “a worrying development… I spoke with the director of the German school, forgiveness is needed to repair (this incident).”
Ariel Cohen Sabban, head of the Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations, has planned to meet with the club’s manager in the near future.
“It’s neither a joke nor a grace… these symbols reflect an ideology which culminated in the assassination of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis. If these kids are older than 16, then these kids could be sentenced to between a month to three years in prison for their actions, as this is a crime in Argentina.” Sabban went on to explain, “we have to be alert because we are beginning new hot beds of anti-Semitism… the state’s drive to combat this phenomenon, specifically through education, is very important.”
The exact punishment for the incident has not been disclosed, but all the students involved in the incidents will attend an educational program at Buenos Aires’ Holocaust museum. The museum released a statement on the incident Aug. 25, saying: “The Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires expressed their condemnation and concern about the recent anti-Semitic attack a Jewish school youth… We invite the authorities of the school of young offenders to accompany their students on a visit to the Museum. We must condemn such actions that remind us of dire stages in recent history.”