California high school students under fire after photos of Nazi swastika and Hitler salute go viral
Newport Harbor High School

Not All Students Grasp Severity of What Happened

Students allegedly from two conservative Orange County, California high schools are under fire after photos of them at a weekend beer party featuring them giving a Hitler salute while standing over a Nazi swastika have gone viral.

"Newport Harbor High School and Costa Mesa High School students posted pictures on Snapchat of students playing beer pong with cups set up like a swastika and saluting Hitler with captions like, 'German engeneraing (sic),'" CBS LA reports (video below).

The school district's president seemed equally concerned about underage drinking and the use of Nazi imagery and salutes.

“We have a concern both for the physical health of students who are underage drinking as well as the mental health of our students or their friends that thought this was an OK thing to do,” Newport-Mesa Unified School District President Charlene Metoyer said.

Some students spoke with local news outlets to express their disgust over their peers' embrace of horrific symbols that exemplify mass murder, genocide, fascism, and the Holocaust.

“Seeing my peers celebrating — not only taking the time to carefully lay out a symbol like that but to then do the salute — and smiling and laughing while they’re doing it; and that no one thought it was a bad idea is pretty shocking to me and bothers me a lot,” senior Sam Quattrociocchi told CBS News.

But clearly not all students grasp the severity of the situation.

"Some of the party goers responded to the social media backlash," OC Weekly reports:

“I’m deleting social media because I can’t take the criticism for posting one photo,” a girl tweeted. “I did not intend to make anyone upset. It got blown out of proportion.” Another teen offered an apology of sorts over Twitter. “We thought of this as a joke because in out [sic] heads we don’t think of it as a big deal but when it gets blown up like this it makes us think and we realize it was terrible and we apologize.”

Despite the professed remorse, the same student only dug himself in deeper by responding, “To us it’s like the “n” word where it doesn’t mean slavery it’s a way to address people and now the holocaust is the new n word and it’s sad but it’s the truth.”

The official Twitter account of the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, the site of a German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, took to Twitter to warn and express concern:

"Someone had an idea... Someone placed the cups... People raised their hands... Someone took the picture & shared with with the world," the Auschwitz Memorial tweeted. "Someone should ask: how come? Why those young people decided to use those symbols of hatred? Someone should think how dangerous this is."

Watch, via CBS LA: