They had been meticulously planning their costumes for quite some time.
The annual summer sports day had a long tradition of fancy dress and, eager to impress, the pupils of Sacred Heart Catholic School kept their outfits under wraps for weeks.
They wanted to surprise their parents and teachers as they made their entrance at the school in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
And surprise them they did. With a flourish and a fanfare, they revealed their costumes – to outraged gasps from the crowd.
The smiling pupils arrived at the school dressed in full Nazi regalia and carrying large Swastika flags, leaving foreign parents and teachers open-mouthed.
Leading the march into the sports ground was a girl dressed as Adolf Hitler – complete with toothbrush moustache – seemingly unaware of the offence she had caused.
She was followed by a procession of pupils dressed as SS guards – brandishing plastic machine guns.
Stunned ex-pats were appalled. Surely the pupils were aware of what the Swastika and Nazis represented?
Apparently not, as it emerged that not even the Thai teachers at the school understood what all the fuss was about.
A teacher at the school said: ‘It was all very embarrassing. Traditionally the students wear fancy dress on the summer sports day and they like to keep everything they are preparing quiet. Nobody saw any swastikas around the school before the event.
‘But then on sports day when we saw these Nazi storm troopers we were appalled. We told the Thai teachers that this was not on. But they did not understand what was wrong with the display.’
Today, a delegation from the consulates of Britain, the United States, France and Germany descended on the school to protest about the controversy – and called on teachers to put modern history and the Holocaust on the curriculum.
They left the premises after the school told them no malice had been intended.
Chiang Mai is a popular retirement destination for many Europeans and Americans, some of whom lost relatives to the Nazis.
A British parent added: ‘It could have been worse. They could have been marching to the ‘Horst Wessel Song or Bomb Oh Bombs on England.”
The school’s principals did not want to comment about the incident, but a spokesman said: ‘We did not know what the students had planned. No offence was intended.’
This is not the first incident of its kind in Thailand. In 2007 about 200 students from a Bangkok school dressed as Nazis for their summer sports day, Sieg Heiling as they strutted around.
Kanya Khemanan, a director of the Thewphaingarm School, was forced to apologise to the Los Angeles-based Holocaust museum Simon Wiesenthal Centre following the incident.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said at the time: ‘We are long past the time when such incidents take place in Asia that can be excused due to “alleged” ignorance of the Nazis’ atrocities during World War II.’