‘Heil Hitler’, Nazi Flag Found at Appalachian State University Days Before Holocaust Survivor’s Visit
A swastika and graffiti praising the Holocaust were discovered this week at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, shortly before a survivor of the Nazi genocide spoke on campus.
Members of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi came across the graffiti early Sunday morning, the group’s president told ASU’s student newspaper.
The slogan “Heil Hitler” was spray-painted above a bright Nazi flag, alongside a Jewish star and the words, “The Holocaust was a good thing,” according to photos posted online by the Watauga County branch of the NAACP.
The graffiti was found days before the school’s Peace and Genocide Education Club hosted a Holocaust survivor, Susan Cernyak-Spats, for a well-attended Q&A on campus on Tuesday.
The North Carolina branch of Hillel said on Sunday that it was “deeply disturbed” by the incident, and working with campus officials “to ensure this matter is investigated and properly addressed.”
“These words and images are incredibly painful and offensive to Jews and non-Jews alike, denigrating the memory of six million Jews and millions of other victims of the Nazis, and have no place on campus or anywhere in society,” the Jewish campus group said in a statement.
It added that the “offensive symbols” — discovered in an area of campus known as the Free Expression Tunnel — “were promptly painted over and replaced with positive language and imagery.”
ASU’s Student Government Association noted on Monday that while it is “committed to protecting freedom of speech,” according to the University Policy Manual and relevant laws, “some forms of expression … are not constitutionally protected.”
“We … do not condone hateful expressions of any kind on this campus,” the student body shared in a statement. “We are here to stand for and promote inclusion and positivity.”
ASU previously made headlines last year, after the white nationalist group Identity Evropa hung a recruitment banner at a pedestrian crossing on campus. The incident was condemned at the time by chancellor Sheri Everts.