Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Lawmakers urge VA chief to remove swastika from German POW gravestones

(JTA) — Lawmakers from two House committees used Memorial Day weekend to call for the removal of gravestones from a military cemetery that are inscribed with Nazi symbols and sentiments.

The four lawmakers sent the bipartisan request to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie in a letter Sunday.

Two tombstones among 140 for World War II POWs at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, are marked with a swastika inside a German cross and inscribed, “He died far from his home for the Führer, people, and fatherland.” Another gravestone in the military cemetery in Salt Lake City is marked with a swastika.

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

“Allowing these gravestones with symbols and messages of hatred, racism, intolerance, and genocide is especially offensive to all the veterans who risked, and often lost, their lives defending this country and our way of life,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is also a stain on the hallowed ground where so many veterans and their families are laid to rest. Families who visit their loved ones, who are buried in the same cemeteries with the Nazi soldiers whom they fought against, should never have to confront symbols of hatred that are antithetical to our American values.”

“It is particularly troubling that VA’s refusal to replace these offensive headstones comes at a time when documented anti-Semitic incidents in the United States have reached a new high.”

The lawmakers are Reps. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Kay Granger, R-Texas, the chairwoman and ranking member of the Appropriations Committee; and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and its ranking member, John Carter, R-Texas, the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the military construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations subcommittee.

In a previous request from Wasserman Schultz, who is among the most senior Jewish Democrats in Congress, the VA responded that the headstones cannot be replaced because the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires federal agencies to protect historic resources.

The post Lawmakers urge VA chief to remove swastika from German POW gravestones at military cemetery appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.