A California school district has removed Nazi symbols from a sixth grade performance of “The Sound of Music.”
Rolling Hills Elementary school in Fullerton, California will perform the play this week, originally a 1959 stage musical that became a classic movie released 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer that takes place in Austria in the years before the Holocaust, without any Nazi imagery over age appropriateness and what they said was concern that it could be exploited by far-right extremists.
“Having a sixth grader dressed up in Nazi regalia, surrounded by swastikas, and saying Heil Hitler – the Superintendent felt that this was inappropriate for maybe a kindergarten or first grader to see without any real context,” Aaruni Thakur, president of the district school board, told the Voice of OC news site.
District Superintendent Robert Pletk said the decision to remove the Nazi-related aspects of the story would ensure that neo-Nazi groups could not repurpose images of the performance.
“I’m actually specifically concerned that Neo-Nazis would take an image that a parent posted of the kids in swastikas, with a flag in the background, with their hands in the air, and then somehow use that image in a way that disparages that child,” Pletka told the news outlet.
Some parents were worried that the kids might be too young to understand the history of the Nazi symbols or the gravity of what they represented.
Other parents accused the school board of censorship and making the decision without their input, while the move was supported by some who agreed that the children were too young to be exposed to Holocaust imagery in the play without grasping the context.
Pletka promised to meet with parents to discuss the issue going forward.
“As we move forward on this, we want to be respectful, we want to be inclusive, we want to create a sense of community and belonging,” he said.