Observers were shocked to see that the United States Army’s XVIII Airborne Unit mark the 75th anniversary of the famous Battle of the Bulge by posting a huge picture of Nazi commander Joachim Peiper to their Facebook page while ostensibly commemorating an American military commander — and were even more horrified to see that same post shared by the official Department of Defense Facebook page.
Peiper was not just any Nazi commander; he served as German army commander Heinrich Himmler’s adjutant and was charged with relaying him statistics about the Schutzstaffel Einsatzgruppen ethnic cleansing squads and the atrocities they committed in Eastern Europe. Peiper would later be in command of his own Waffen-SS armored unit and slaughtered 84 American prisoners of war during the Battle of the Bulge in what is known as the Malmedy massacre.
This is on the official Department of Defense Facebook page. https://t.co/eue7LlF6pI
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) December 17, 2019
The post was quickly deleted when the outcry broke out, but the screenshots are being widely circulated on social media.
No official response has been given, but the XVIII Airborne told one angry commentator that “sometimes in movies, the movie will create a sense of tension by introducing a bad guy…It is a technique of effective storytelling.”
We fail to understand how prominently posting a photograph of Peiper commemorating the battle in which he ordered his men to butcher unarmed American prisoners is “creating tension” in this particular Facebook post.
While nobody is accusing the president or his aides have any direct role in this post, it’s no coincidence that the President’s constant blowing of white supremacist dogwhistles and his deliberate emboldening of all varieties of American racist has led to a skyrocketing in hate crimes and swastika vandalism — and posts like this simply throw more fuel on the fire of controversy.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.