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Australian Elementary Boy Dresses Up as Concentration Camp Inmate

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An elementary school in Melbourne, Australia, sparked controversy when one of its students dressed up as a concentration camp inmate for Book Week.

Taking place in mid-November at St. John Vianney’s Primary School, the student was dressed as the titular character in the Holocaust novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. His mother posted the picture on Facebook, writing later in a comment that the “only thing letting his costume down is his blonder hair.”

The incident sparked condemnation from Australia’s leading civil rights organization, the Anti-Defamation Commission, who called on the school’s principal Shane Regan to have the post removed, which it was, though Regan declined to comment.

“This is wrong on so many levels, and I am troubled by the level of insensitivity and ignorance displayed here,” ADC chairman Dvir Abramovich said in a statement. “I imagine that there would be many parents who would shake their heads in disbelief and find it hard to fathom why the mother sent her son to school as a concentration camp inmate, and later posted the images on social media,” he said.

“Did she at any point consider the trauma this may cause to Jewish students who may have a Holocaust survivor grandparent, or that 1.5 million children were murdered in the Holocaust and that their death should not be the subject of a dress up? While this is unclear, it would seem that none of the teachers objected to this bizarre episode or explained to the boy that his costume was offensive. Still, I am encouraged by the swift response of Principal Regan and his willingness to meaningfully work with the ADC,” Abramovich said.

“Now is the time for education and a frank conversation, and this episode has certainly created an opportunity to talk to the entire student and parent body about why there is no excuse for this kind of behavior,” he said.”It is also another reminder that we should not sweep such incidents under the carpet, but work even harder to ensure that all young people understand the evils of the Holocaust – and that it must be treated with respect.”