A Polish elementary school held an Auschwitz-themed dance recital featuring children in concentration camp uniforms simulating being gassed to death.
During the event, which was held in the village of Łabunie on December 10, students lay on the floor as a smoke machine sent clouds of fake poison gas into the air, while other students dressed as Nazis, complete with swastika armbands, stood at attention nearby.
Some of the children were are young as seven, according to the Notes from Poland website, which cited several Polish-language press reports about the incident.
The site, which is run by Pedagogical University of Krakow historian Daniel Tilles, quoted a Newsweek Polska report stating that Łabunie’s mayor “told the children that they must defend Latin civilization.”
Another speaker, whose parents died at Auschwitz, was quoted as saying that lawmakers who opposed seeking German reparations deserved to have their heads shaved as if they were Nazi collaborators.
The event marked the renaming of the school as Dzieci Zamojszczyzny (Zamość Children), a reference to Polish children deported by the Nazis, some of whom were forcibly adopted by German families if found to be sufficiently Aryan.
Newsweek Polska reported that “thousands of schools” across the country have held such events, according to Notes from Poland, which called attention to a play in June in which first-graders dressed up in concentration camp uniforms in memory of a Polish priest who was murdered in Auschwitz.
After Jews, more Poles died in Auschwitz than any other group.
Since the nationalist Law and Justice Party came to power in 2015, Poland has taken an increasingly hard line against what it sees as efforts to blame the country and its people for German crimes committing during the Second World War.
Critics, however, have accused Warsaw of seeking to revise the history of the Holocaust. This has led to significant tensions between Israel and Poland, with relations reaching a nadir in February with Poland’s decision to pull out of a much-touted diplomatic summit in Jerusalem in response to Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s comment that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”
However, despite the differences between the two countries, Israel came to Poland’s defense this week after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the country of instigating the Second World War.