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Military Faces Backlash After Posting Photo Of Nazi War Criminal To Commemorate Battle Of The Bulge Anniversary On Facebook

@USArmyPAO/Twitter

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.

The Nazi, Joachim Peiper, was romanticized on three different pages, despite the fact that he was responsible for the killing of 84 American POWs.

@USArmyPAO/Twitter
@USArmyPAO/Twitter
@USArmyPAO/Twitter

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.” 

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 Army has offered no comment on the posting of the photo.

For most, Nazis deserve no sympathy or honor for their role in one of the most grotesque eras of human history.

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.

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.

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Written by Collin Gossel

Collin Gossel is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, New York, but there are nights when he looks up at the stars and wistfully thinks to himself “there’s got to be more out there…” You can catch Collin improvising new musicals every Tuesday night at the Magnet Theater’s Musical Megawatt, or follow his unfiltered thoughts on Twitter and Instagram @CollinGossel.--