2 Tombstones At A US Military Cemetery Are Inscribed With Swastikas. This Group Wants Them Removed

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One of the graves at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery that bears a swastika. (Michael Field/Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A group that advocates for religious freedoms in the military wants the Veterans Administration to remove German POW tombstones at a San Antonio military cemetery that are inscribed with Nazi symbols and sentiments.

The two tombstones, among 140 for World War II POWs at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, are marked with a swastika inside a German cross, and are inscribed, “He died far from his home for the Führer, people, and fatherland.”

Führer was the title Adolf Hitler assumed for himself.

It’s not clear why just these two tombstones, among 132 Germans buried in the San Antonio cemetery’s POW section, have the Nazi inscriptions. Both of the deceased died in 1943.

There are an estimated 860 World War I and II-era German POWs buried in 43 cemeteries across the United States.

Mikey Weinstein, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder, who is Jewish, said his organization was alerted to the presence of the tombstones with Nazi insignia by a retired senior military officer who last week visited the graves of his maternal grandfather, his uncle and his aunt.

“Some of them are buried with our war dead, which is shocking enough,” Weinstein said of the POW. “There’s no way you’re going to put a swastika on that grave.”

The retired officer, who spoke to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution, said he was spurred to action knowing the stories of Jewish relatives who had suffered anti-Semitism in Europe. The mother of his grandfather, who is buried at the cemetery, was Jewish.

The Veterans’ Administration “changes out headstones for the smallest of errors,” he said. “Leave out the Nazi symbols and the statement they honored Adolf Hitler and the fatherland.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs did not return JTA requests for comment.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. For years, there was a German fighter aircraft with a Nazi swastika, displayed at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base military museum, in Dayton, Ohio. When I protested to the curator about the swastika at a U.S. Air Force Base, he told me that “they were showing the types of aircraft which the USA fought against during World War Two”. However, I still think that it was inappropriate to have that public display of a Nazi symbol on an aircraft, on an American military base. The latter aircraft may still be sitting there. The ADL or some other Jewish organization should have done something about that a long time ago.

    • That’s just ignorant and stupid, it’s an historical object while here it is a gravestone than doesn’t need to have the swastika or the inscription.

  2. It always amazes me how the kind of people who are the first to accuse blacks of making everything about race are often the first to make everything about race.

    As a matter of fact, not only are there Confederate monuments in national cemeteries (including Arlington), but according to an article in the Atlantic in 2013, the VA’s National Cemetery Administration was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on replacing and maintaining Confederate headstones–since the laws requiring that are still in place, I assume it’s still doing that. According to the same article, it is also maintaining several dozen Confederate monuments and memorials.

    And lest you take the approach that the Confederacy wasn’t “against blacks,” I would suggest reading the Cornerstone Address, by Confederate VP Alexander Stephens, where he declared of the Confederacy “its cornerstone, rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

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