Sein Kampf

Sacred Heart’s ‘Remedial European History – World War II (Holocaust)’ was always going to be a difficult class. Class size was almost doubled by the ‘observers’ that the school administrators had invited in a desperate measure to escape even more criticism over an incident for which they had already disclaimed all responsibility.

Lining the back wall were the Deputy Head Teacher, the Head of History, representatives from the Israeli and German Embassies and the Papal Nuncio, someone from the Office of the Private Education Commission, two regional education supervisors, a delegate from the Parent’s Association, the Assistant Rabbi from Chiang Mai Synagogue, a priest from the Chiang Mai Diocese, representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Yad Vashem Institute, half a dozen press photographers and two men with ear-pieces, sunglasses and bulges under their suit jackets who denied they were Mossad.

Acharn Therdthai Rakbankerd took a deep breath and launched into his lesson. After more than week of careful coaching by his superiors, he was under instructions to ensure that his students emerged with enough understanding of World War II history to know that parading round in SS uniforms and draping giant swastikas over school buildings was Not A Good Idea.

Under normal circumstances, this would not be too difficult. Half the students might spend the class fiddling with their mobiles, would baulk at the homework and threaten him with their well-heeled parents if he pushed them too far. But these students couldn’t care less about school activities anyway. All he had to do was to focus on the docile Chinese with glasses on the front row and the problem would be solved.

But he couldn’t just read from the textbook in a loud voice, make them copy it all down and give them a test to see if they’d memorized it. This was the way he always taught and, in his opinion, it worked, if his exam results were anything to go by. But with so many bigwigs in attendance, the school had told him to use the ‘learner-centred’, ‘participatory’ and ‘discovery’ teaching methods that he’d heard about at in-service teacher training sessions and never used.

History was facts. He knew them; the students didn’t. So it was just a matter of reading them out from the textbook and making sure the children listened and remembered. He could see no point in ‘discussions’ or ‘group work’.

The first part had gone OK. He’d stated the facts but kept adding ‘chai mai?’ so it at least looked like some sort of Q&A. Within minutes, the class had settled down. The back half had zoned out as usual, except that Titiporn was flirting with one of the earpiece guys, and the front half was busy copying every word he said. (And worrying what all these ‘chai mai?’ meant and would they be on the test?)

But overconfidence led to his downfall. In a fit of learner-centredness, he decided to ask a question. He chose one of the historically more important facts. ‘Who knows what Hitler’s first name was?’

But since he never normally asked questions like this, he was taken aback by the response. Half a dozen hands were raised in the traditional Sacred Heart manner – palms forward, arms 20 degrees or so short of the perpendicular. The press cameras flashed and he immediately saw tomorrow’s headlines: “Class gives Sieg Heil salute at ‘Nazi’ school.”

While he was still fumbling over that, Patcharin started. Forever looking up things on the internet, always with a contrary opinion, she was a disruptive little trouble-maker. That’s what comes of trying to learn more than the teacher.

‘But sir, if the Nazis wanted racial purity, a sort of Germany for the Germans, isn’t that the same as Thailand for the Thais? I mean, our civics classes are full of ideas about being truly Thai.’

‘But that’s civics, not history. And of course Thailand should be for the Thais. You wouldn’t want the Burmese to invade again, would you? Or the Khmer or Lao?’

‘But my ancestors came from China. Does that make me un-Thai?’

Excruciatingly aware that every face in the administration was pale and Chinese, Acharn Therdthai spoke vaguely about becoming a true Thai with the passage of time.

‘But this is race, isn’t it? Your race doesn’t change with time.’

Acharn Therdthai bit his tongue and offered to discuss this after class, though normally he avoided all contact with know-it-all pests like Patcharin.

‘And this Lebensraum idea, and Grossdeutschland. Isn’t this like these maps of Thailand in all our history books showing the bits of Lao and Malaya and Cambodia and so on that should be Thailand?’

‘Well, er, it’s, er, very complicated but all you really need to know is that it’s wrong to dress up in Nazi uniforms and paint swastikas all over the school. Er, especially when your teachers know nothing about it.’

‘But sir, I was looking on the internet and I found this photo of Prince Harry in a Nazi uniform. Is that wrong as well?’

‘What? Well, er, yes, I suppose it could be.’

‘But sir, he’s a member of the Royal Family. How can you say it’s wrong? Isn’t that lèse majesté?’

‘OK, class over, and Patcharin, I’ll see you in my office.’

'Isn’t this like these maps

'Isn’t this like these maps of Thailand in all our history books showing the bits of Lao and Malaya and Cambodia and so on that should be Thailand?’

The kids... the boys, anyway... love that stuff, too. Makes 'em feel the victim, and ready to fight to restore the country's land and honor!

Maybe Herr Professor Doktor TherdThai should have explained that, just as the Thai Royal Family might be described by some as Chinese, so too the English Royal Family might be described by some as German, and so naturally a bit 'conflicted' when push came to shove. As was Edward the... VIIIth, was it? So many kings, so few names.

Yes, there are disturbing

Yes, there are disturbing similarities between Thailand and Nazi Germany, and just like under Hitler, it has compelled some Thai to do horrid things. Though perhaps, as arrogant as these teachers may have been (unless they actually like fascism, which many middle/upper class Thai do, so perhaps it was intentional), this incident will draw a little bit of attention to it to wake some people up.

It's a little funny when you see a mongoloid Thai wearing a swastika in Thailand, but. Lot's of people are wearing them here, like on motorbike helms or t-shirts, so on. Since Nazi is about racial superiority, it's about the equivalent of having a slogan "I'm an Idiot" printed on them...

Unless my memory is faulty,

Unless my memory is faulty, that so-called Swastika is, in fact, the Buddhism symbol. I was pretty upset when I first saw it, but then became aware of the other use of this symbol. I do not believe these users really understand what it is they are representing to the outside.

Frank I am pretty sure the

Frank I am pretty sure the original symbol was the symbol of LIFE but, going (pointing, so to speak) in the other direction. That would be pretty indicative, suggesting the nazi use of the symbol was the opposite if life; death.

"I do not believe these users really understand what it is they are representing to the outside."

You may be right but, who put the idea in their little heads? Who financed the whole thing? The students did not just go to the local Robinson store to buy six dozen of nazi uniforms, prefect replicas and there paraphernalia. Of course being a "Christian" school we could just summarize by saying "God works in mysterious ways". And often dubious ways, IMO.

I think though suggesting they do not really know is a bit dangerous, like saying the resurrection of the village scouts is more acceptable because after all, the scouts really have no idea why they will be used as little spies and informers among the people either.

In any case, they are playing it down as much as possible by suggesting these kids were just playing around. But what if....let us imagine...these kids had decided to wear Pol Pot/Red Khmer uniforms and march around with wooden clubs and machetes, with little doll's heads hanging from their hands.

Would there have been a different reaction? You betcha!

Frank, What kind of idiot


What kind of idiot will confuse this:
With this:

The art and culture associated with the original swastika is very distinct and cannot be confused or mistaken in any way. It is deep Hindu, very deep, and only appears in very decidedly religious ways. The Nazi version, however, is always black and blocky, white in red. No mistaking the two.

/cont... There are people in


There are people in Thailand who admire fascism and think that Nazi Germany, fascist Italy or Japan are ideal role models. I believe it is very likely that the teachers who organized this parade were fully aware of what the symbol meant. They no doubt pass on elitist and fascist views in their teachings.

Likewise, I don't think it's coincidence that the PAD use a swastika for their New Politics Party:

Listening to their views on governance, social outlook and so on, they are fascist and racist. I think a large portion of the middle and upper classes of Thailand are not going to respond negatively to idolizing Hitler or Nazism in a subtle way. After all, they want the exact same thing as the Nazi wanted. And what's gassing a few Jews? They've already shown they couldn't care less about gassing a few Cambodians or whatever when they called on open war with Cambodia over the temple dispute. There has never been any official acknowledgment of the Thammasart University massacre, or the Red Barrel Killings, no explanation of how they might have actually been bad - people still think it was the RIGHT thing to do, you know, they would do it again a thousand times over, they WANT to. Now in the south, the government (both Abhisit and Shinawatra) is actively undergoing ethnic cleansing, trying to eradicate the Muslim culture and replace it with the Buddhist social hierarchy culture structure to make them easier to shepherd. The government provides the Village Scouts with cheap guns and encourages terrorism and civil war to fight the different race that is too distinctly apart from usual Thai.

Racist fascism is popular in Thailand, there is no questioning it. It is no coincidence that the Thai people so frequently caught about using swastika logos are racist fascists. They are not just some innocent bystanders caught up in a clash of cultures. With a name like "Frank Anderson" I'm guessing you're a white fellow and I'm guessing you live in Thailand - surely you don't need a lecture on how racist this place is. It takes me 15 minutes to answer the question "When you go home?" to a mongoliod Buddhist Thai, even when the bloody idiot is sitting on my own sofa in my own house!