The Battle of the Bulge was one of the most important events of World War II, marking the Allies’ successful attempt to stop Hitler from advancing any farther across Europe.
Many thought it strange, then, that to mark the historic 75th anniversary of the battle, several military social media pages, including the Department of Defense, chose to post a photo of a Nazi war criminal in his SS uniform.
The move was called out by people like Brian Fickel (@USArmyPAO) on Twitter.
I am dumbfounded by the decision to prominently display a Nazi on military social media on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. pic.twitter.com/Do0mB7Guvj— Brian Fickel (@USArmyPAO) December 16, 2019
The Nazi, Joachim Peiper, was romanticized on three different pages, despite the fact that he was responsible for the killing of 84 American POWs.
After a unified social media backlash, the photo was removed from the pages, but not before the posts went out of their way to romanticize the Nazi.
The XVIII Airborne Corps wrote:
“The fate of his beloved nation rested on his ability to lead his men.”
A moderator for the Airborne Corps defended the decision to post the photo in the comments.
“Sometimes in movies, the movie will create a sense of tension by introducing a bad guy. It is [a] technique of effective storytelling.”
As the US empire spirals deeper into fascism, the mass-murdering US military machine is no longer hiding it— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) December 17, 2019
The Department of Defense and 2 more official US military Facebook pages posted a photo of a Nazi to commemorate World War II’s Battle of the Bulge https://t.co/WmF4UiyF8z
It’s still unclear who exactly was responsible for posting the photo, though The Washington Post was able to determine where the image originated: a gamer from Slovakia who seems sympathetic to the Nazi regime.
“In the lower right-hand corner of the photo, a historic image rendered modern through digital editing, a watermark reads, ‘Colored by Tobias Kurtz.’ The same watermark is visible on an identical image uploaded to the Deviant Art gallery of a user who goes by ‘kapo-neu’ and identifies himself on his ‘about’ page as Tobias Kurtz.”
“The connection was noted by journalist Corey Pein, who tweeted a link to the image posted by Kurtz on Sept. 21, 2014. Kurtz did not immediately return a request for comment.”
“Kurtz’s Deviant Art and Flickr accounts say he is a Slovakia-based gamer who likes photography and graphic design.”
“He has also shared an image of Hitler laughing as a group of German soldiers prepare to execute a kneeling man and ‘favorited’ an illustration [of] Hitler punching an American soldier while Nazis cheer. ‘This photo have my 👍,’ Kurtz wrote in the comments of the drawing.”
The Department of Defense posted a nazi? Ya we aren’t surprised. Anti-fascist been screaming about nazis in the military.— Black Mast Antifa (@BlackMastAntifa) December 17, 2019
I was just told the Department of Defense posting a picture of Nazi war-criminal SS leader Joachim Peiper was likely just a mistake.— Dennis Detwiller (@drgonzo123) December 17, 2019
It’s all over the place in the American military and has been for YEARS. pic.twitter.com/4Vs1TpPtLi
The Army has offered no comment on the posting of the photo.
A real Nazi on a real FB page that is really our Department of Defense page. https://t.co/CLzHxi6qRk— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) December 17, 2019
Remember how earlier this week the department of defense commemorated the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge on social media by celebrating a Nazi who executed more than 80 U.S. servicemen?— E.M. (@randomscreename) December 18, 2019
You don’t because that’s normal now.
For most, Nazis deserve no sympathy or honor for their role in one of the most grotesque eras of human history.
Well, the current Presidenal administration thinks Nazis are "fine people". I'm not surprised at this at all.— 💜Galaxia💜 (@Sailorbipolar2) December 17, 2019
My grandpa was in the battle of the bulge and I’m glad he isn’t around to see that honestly.— April Porter (@ConnieNervegas) December 17, 2019
Meanwhile, in America, the Department of Defense and at least two major combat commands, a light division and an Airborne corps, are celebrating Nazi war criminals on social media for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge... ohh... and we have no healthcare. Not really. https://t.co/5jdBDUcC4K— Arctic Velocipedist (@UrbaniteAlaska) December 18, 2019
People couldn’t believe anyone would think a sympathetic photo of the enemy would be a suitable way to commemorate the Battle of the Bulge.
To commemorate The Battle of the Bulge we, the United States Department of Defense, present to youuuuuu......#8 in your catalogues but #1 in our heart.....a NAZI! pic.twitter.com/czT1vBpHUB— Matt Morling (@eaglematt07) December 17, 2019
The official Facebook page of the Department Of Defense published a post glorifying a Nazi today. It was deleted but the archive is forever. Right here: https://t.co/VF7V1l66P3 https://t.co/h1IrqSqIVO— Livia *REMOVE THE MOTHERFCKKER* Scott (@LiviaLove) December 17, 2019
If you’re ever in doubt, here’s a good rule of thumb for memorializing World War II: the Nazis were the bad guys.
Don’t honor them.
The PBS documentary Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals is available here.