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Teacher Apologizes for Nazi Display

Band director included the anthem and flag linked to the Third Reich in a halftime show at a Texas high school. It almost caused a melee.

October 01, 2003|From Associated Press

DALLAS — A high school band director has apologized for a halftime performance that included the anthem commonly known as "Deutschland Uber Alles," closely associated with Adolf Hitler, and a student running across the field with a Nazi flag.

By including "Das Deutschlandlied," as the German anthem written in 1841 and exploited by the Third Reich is officially known, the show aspired to be a historical performance featuring the flags and music of the nations that fought during World War II, said Charles Grissom, Paris High School's band director.

The show, titled "Visions of World War II," nearly caused a melee at Friday night's football game at Dallas' Hillcrest High.

"We were booed," Grissom said. "We had things thrown at us. We were cursed."

Paris' assistant coaches were even targeted as they made their way through the bleachers to a press box after halftime.

"The assistant coaches ... got blasted, cursed," said Brent Southworth, Paris' head football coach.

Grissom said he never intended to offend anyone, and he apologized repeatedly.

"We had an error in judgment," Grissom told the Dallas Morning News in an interview published Tuesday. "Our intent was never to cause any harm."

The show was performed in Paris, about 100 miles northeast of Dallas, a week earlier after the homecoming game against Athens.

The band, which began working on the show in August, planned to perform it at the University Interscholastic League contest Oct. 15.

The show also includes the flags and music of France, Britain, Japan and the United States. The flags were raised in intervals that corresponded with the music of the nations. An announcement over loudspeakers before the performance explained the school was trying to do a "historical, accurate depiction of the event."

Mark Briskman, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, said: "This can serve as an educational tool that there are certain tools and certain symbols that still carry ... an amount of hurt," Briskman said. "It was a mistake, and they've apologized for it, and we basically accept their apology."

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