The students apologized for the photos posted to social media.

Eva Schloss, a survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp and the stepsister of Anne Frank, who rose into fame as a Holocaust diarist, met with students of Newport Harbor High School. The students were condemned for giving the Nazi salute in multiple social media photographs. The photographs also featured a swastika made with red cups in what appeared to be a drinking game. The captured images were extremely anti-Semitic, with one having the caption of “master race.” The photos gained international notoriety after being posted on Snapchat. The event gave rise to concerns about a recent spurt in hate speech incidents inside American public schools.

Schloss, who is now 89-years-old, not only talked to the students involved, but also to their parents, faculty members, and student leaders. She also met a local rabbi who assisted in organizing this meeting. She recounted her horrifying experiences as an inmate of the notorious Auschwitz camp. When the Soviet forces finally liberated the camp, only her mother was alive with her. The Nazis had slaughtered all other members of their family.

For the students, what began as a misguided and poor attempt at humor became a national shame for the city of Newport Beach in Southern California. The event left behind outrage and disbelief, but there was also hope for real change. Schloss said the students who saluted the Nazi swastika had no idea of what the symbol portrayed. To them, it was merely a joke. The students profusely apologized when they met her.

Schloss expressed disappointment with the present educational system, pointing out that such an event proves the inadequacy of what is being taught. The photographs were taken during a party attended by several high school students. These educational institutions teach mostly white and noticeably affluent communities in Orange County. As per school officials, they have already interviewed nearly 24 students and are considering whether to take disciplinary action. The photographs shocked the wealthy enclave located by the sea known for its picturesque palm tree-dotted streets.

Sean Boulton, the principal of Newport Harbor High School, declined to give an interview delving into the individual student level. He, however, did say “society as a whole has normalized hate language and hate speech.”

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