Gravestones, Swastikas, Memorial Day and Hypocrisy

As we approach Memorial Day, dedicated to honoring those that have fallen in service to our nation, we should not only honor their heroism and mourn their loss, but also consider how we should think about our past enemies.  Such a discussion is playing out now as a member of Congress, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and others appeal to the Veterans’ Administration to replace or remove swastika-inscribed headstones from the graves of former World War II German POWs that passed away on American soil and are now buried in taxpayer-supported, national VA cemeteries, alongside American service members who fought fascism and the toxic, racist, genocidal Nazi ideology and war machine.

Many have written to us expressing the argument that the Nazi swastikas should stand, for solely historical reasons or to “honor” these soldiers, with one of the more civil responses being along the lines of:  “These soldiers served their country whether willingly or not, they may have felt that what they were doing was right, just as we have felt that many of our choices were right, even when they turned out to be wrong.”

Another said that “Those headstones were placed to honor those 3 men.”

I don’t see it that way – at least not on American soil.

First, we have no obligation to “honor” deceased members of the enemy – only to respect them in a humane manner (i.e., to not dishonor them or desecrate their remains).  While I understand that they (in some way) served and died for the Nazi symbol depicted on their tombstone (and the textual homages to Hitler, the Third Reich, and the supporting German people it represented during the war), that still doesn’t mean that we should somehow perpetuate that hateful symbol – a symbol now banned in these own soldiers’ homeland.

To follow the argument of those who would honor the symbols of our enemies, let’s consider an example.  Should we then have assembled the remains (if possible) of one or more of the 9/11 terrorists (or any other Al Qaeda terrorist deceased on American soil) and placed them in a VA cemetery with an Al Qaeda (or ISIS) emblem or banner on their headstone because that’s what they fought and died for?  Next to the graves of real American heroes who fought against them?  Then what about the body of Osama bin Laden himself (since we had his body)?  No.  We chose to dispose of his body into the ocean.  As far as I know it wasn’t desecrated, but it also wasn’t placed among those we honor on Memorial Day.  Should the body of a terrorist (treated as a POW or enemy combatant) who might die awaiting trial at Guantanamo Bay be buried in one of our VA cemeteries?  Again, the answer is clear.

I concede that in any war, many or even most simple soldiers may be forced to the front lines without fully embracing the ideology for which their leaders send them into battle.  However, be they foot soldiers or senior officers, if they were fighting under the Nazi Swastika, they were effectively enemy racists responsible for the most hideous genocide and destruction of the century, millennium, or all of history.  To “honor” their service by putting that hateful symbol and accompanying text among the graves of our heroes (especially our heroes of Jewish descent!) is simply wrong and disgraceful.

This treatment also raises other ugly questions about our own racist past when we consider the treatment of these German POWs.  Our domestic WWII history is littered with examples of hundreds of German POW camps in the US in which these same prisoners were allowed to attend civilian churches in ethnic-German communities while German officers were hosted for “teas” with the local ladies and prison staff.

I’m not advocating any undue harshness or cruelty for POWs from any nation.  But, we should also consider that while we were “honoring” the service of these German POWs to their Swastika-symbolized racist state, and ultimately burying those that passed away with swastika-emblazoned headstones among our own soldiers, we were IMPRISONING fully-fledged American citizens in camps on the West Coast because of their (non-European) ethnic heritage–certainly one of the darkest and most painful scars on our nation’s history.  I wonder if all of our fellow American citizens of Japanese ancestry who died in our concentration camps were granted the same manicured cemetery and noble marble headstone afforded our enemy?  Weren’t they more deserving, in the end?

So, what should we do?  Frankly, we should exhume the bodies and send the caskets and remains back to Germany to let them handle the issue.  If that can’t happen, then we should simply replace the headstones with ones that contain simple statements of name, rank, date, and a generic “German Soldier” or “German Prisoner” or similar statement.  If that’s not acceptable to the German government, then they can retrieve and repatriate the remains at their cost.  None of these actions would dishonor these soldiers.  Any of these actions would restore our own hallowed ground to a place where those who have fallen gallantly, and their families and fellow Americans who honor them, can reflect in peace upon that terrible conflict, consoled in knowing that they defeated Nazism–both militarily and symbolically.

Martin France
Brigadier General, USAF (Retired)
MRFF Advisory Board Member


Brig Gen (Retired) France is Professor Emeritus of Astronautics at the US Air Force Academy.  He retired from the Air Force in 2018 after more than 37 years of distinguished active duty service that included assignments on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Air Force and Space Command Headquarters.  He is a 1981 graduate of the US Air Force Academy with graduate degrees from Stanford (MS, Aeronautics & Astronautics), Virginia Tech (PhD, Engineering Science and Mechanics) and the National War College (Distinguished Graduate, MS, National Security Studies).  He has served as an unofficial and official advisor to the MRFF since its original advocacy began in 2004.


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1 Comment

  1. Joe Cortina

    Gen – people like you are disgrace to this country to God and all human decency. You are EITHER moron red-neck fundy stupid – OR just plain EVIL! Scum like you are a a disgrace to the uniform i worse WITH HONOR! Your evil irrational hatred makes you either a Christ hating jew or a jew loving Zionist. Either way – you are not fit to breathe the same air as DECENT MEN.

    You tirade of hated for brave German warriors just trying to defend their OWN COUNTRY against Christ killing jews and their criminal useful toadies like the British and sadly my own misinformed CRIMINALLY ignorant imbeciles. I was traing young American sons how to defend THEIR SOIL – not demonic israHELL – before you were potty trained!

    I commanded a Special Forces A team when you were still in grade school! I too have raveled extensively and was also an aerospace scientist – and am multilingual. I have also published five books concerning valuable TRUTHS about subjects VITAL to our freedoms that you are obviously totally ignorant of.

    Even REAL men like Patton eventually realized that “WE FOUGHT THE WRONG PEOPLE” as he wrote his wife before he was murdered by the Godless jews who murdered him – lest he reveal the TRUTH of their evil ambitions to the world.

    While with the CIA in Palestine and observed the daily murder of helpless orphans by the demonic jew scum IDF- I took an oath to God to try my best to expose EVIL wherever and wherever i Encountered it. ! After reading your diatribe of unfounded hatred for the most brave and selfless GENUINE CHRISTIAN people of Hitlers Germany- I was deeply offended by you cowardly attack on the only people in recent history that could have put an end jew-created communism and spared HUNDREDS of millions of innocent murders.

    Had we sided with the brave Germans and defeated the REAL EVIL EMPIRE there would have been no VIETNAM WAR- no KOREAN WAR no 50 years of ‘Cold-War’ and our nation would today most probably free prosperous and more Godly and moral – being free from the endless evil fluence of the jews. There is Incostentable overwhelming evidence to support this.

    ALL than any TRUE Christian needs to remember about the dangers of the universal enemy of ALL freedom loving men of good will is contained in the 44 words of JOHN-8-44. It is scum like you that are a threat to world peace. You have a sick depraved twisted elitist antiChrist hateful mind.

    The Brave German people were our only hope. Hitler never wanted war with us and wanted to save Christian Europe. The only BASTARDS that WANTED DEATH AND DESTRUCTION were Godless scum like Churchill – FDR and Stalin. It would behove you to read David LLoyd George’s take of Hitler and the German people in the Post Dept 23 1936.

    You will come this way but once – Gen – so if you have even a spark of wisdom and goodness left in your black sould – you should consider doing GOOD- not evil and spreading TRUTH not worn out endless lies of the jews.

    “and the lusts of your father ( Satan) ye WILL do”.

    Stop spreading LIES and HATED to mock the Lord and exuault the Satanic jews.

    Joe Cortina – former Vice consul to Costa Rica – former Cmndr inf trng co. E-5 -2 – former cmdr Op Det A-32 20th SP Gp Abn – 1st SF GP – former Honeywell aerospace scientist – PADI Instructor – comm pilot – father grandfather author and giver of TRUTH

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