Robert M. Citino wonders why an Ohio congressional candidate dresses up like a Nazi

Historians in the News

The revelation that Rich Iott, a Republican candidate for Congress from Ohio, was an active member of a group of dedicated to understanding the experience of soldiers who served in the Nazi Waffen SS by dressing up in their uniforms — and staging recreations of their battles — has forced historical re-enactors to defend their hobby....

Changes have been made to the Web site of the group Mr. Iott used to be a member of, — and an affiliated YouTube channel — but The Atlantic managed to save a copy of a “recruitment video” for the group posted online (embedded above) as well this text, which attempts to justify the group’s apparent celebration of the Waffen SS Wiking unit:

Nazi Germany had no problem in recruiting the multitudes of volunteers willing to lay down their lives to ensure a “New and Free Europe”, free of the threat of Communism. National Socialism was seen by many in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and other eastern European and Balkan countries as the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life, despite the true underlying totalitarian (and quite twisted, in most cases) nature of the movement. Regardless, thousands upon thousands of valiant men died defending their respective countries in the name of a better tomorrow. We salute these idealists; no matter how unsavory the Nazi government was, the front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS (in particular the foreign volunteers) gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free.

But Robert M. Citino, a military historian and professor at the University of North Texas, told Mr. Green that the Nazi division’s role in the Second World War was far from heroic:

The entire German war effort in the East was a racial crusade to rid the world of ’subhumans,’ Slavs were going to be enslaved in numbers of tens of millions. And of course the multimillion Jewish population of Eastern Europe was going to be exterminated altogether. That’s what all these folks were doing in the East. It sends a shiver up my spine to think that people want to dress up and play SS on the weekend.

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