Hitler Is Not Dead - Thailand's Youth Embrace Nazi Fashion Trend
Tourists traveling to Thailand may be shocked to see young Thais walking through the streets of Bangkok and other major cities, wearing T-shirts with the image of Hitler, Swastikas, Nazi slogans and S.S. uniforms, but Thailand is not the only country where this is fashionable. Similar trends have been seen in Japan, Honk Kong and South Korea, and back in 2007, a pro-Hitler group in Taiwan with approximately 1,000 members attempted to gain official status from the Taiwanese government.
What is the fascination one might ask? Well it seems quite clear that most Thais are poorly educated about the events of World War 2, therefore they don't seem to realize how offensive these images are to so many people. Thais have limited knowledge of Hitler, they know he was "the bad guy", but they know little of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. Perhaps they are fascinated by his power and fame, much in the same way that Americans glorify the mafia, making heroes out of "the bad guys", who call themselves good fellas.
Bangkok's shopping centers are filled with "Nazi Chic" and "Hitler Chic" fashion items, and the trend is only gaining in popularity. International media reports condemning the trend do nothing to discourage Thais, who are already used to seeing their country unfairly portrayed as nothing more than a haven for pedophiles and sex tourists. With so many negative reports, Thais grow tired of hearing Western media criticism, and they tend to ignore it.
Trends like this highlight the flaws of Thailand's school system, which is far more focused on nationalistic brainwashing than it is on teaching kids about world history. In recent years there have been a few highly publicized cases of entire schools dressing up in Nazi uniforms, with replica rifles and Swastika flags. It seems that neither the students and teachers, nor the parents knew enough about world history to realize what a controversy would be created.
Thewphaingarm School - 2007
The Bangkok based private school shocked the world when they celebrated their annual sports day in September of 2007. The students put on quite a show, dressed in full Nazi regalia, goose-stepping through the courtyard and offering the occasional "Sieg Heil". More than 200 students took part in the event, some dressed as Nazi Stormtroopers, waving flags with Nazi symbols. It was an elaborate display that must have required the participation of many teachers and parents, making it all the more shocking that nobody involved had the foresight to see that many people would find this offensive. The teacher who was responsible for organizing the event was removed from his position at the school, and the administration reluctantly issued an apology to an international Jewish human rights organization for its sponsorship of a celebration that involved a Nazi-themed parade.
Sacred Hearts School - 2011
Just 4 years after the scandal unfolded in the wake of the Nazi parade at Thewphaingarm School in Bangkok, a Catholic School in Chiang Mai held a shockingly similar event. The teachers at Sacred Hearts School denied any knowledge of the event, saying that they had allowed the students to organize their own sports day, and the Nazi theme was a surprise to everyone. An unlikely story when you see how detailed the costumes were, and how the "well rehearsed" the event appeared to be. During the ceremony, parents of foreign students were outraged, yet Thai teachers seemed oblivious to what all the fuss was about.
Hitler Is Not Dead
In 2009, the Israeli and German ambassadors to Thailand were shocked when they saw a giant billboard in Bangkok, with a photo of Adolf Hitler, and written underneath was "Hitler Is Not Dead". The advertisement was meant to promote the grand opening of a wax museum, which also had a wax replica of Hitler as one of it's display pieces. After facing international criticism, the advertising company responsible for the billboard removed the ad and replaced it with something more appropriate.
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