US Lawmakers Urge Removal of Swastika-Adorned Graves From Military Cemeteries in Texas, Utah
The row over the presence of German prisoner-of-war tombstones adorned with Nazi swastikas at two US military cemeteries continued on Monday, as four members of Congress called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to remove “a stain on the hallowed ground where so many veterans and their families are laid to rest.”
In a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, the bipartisan group of congressional representatives said they had been “deeply troubled to learn that Department of Veterans Affairs Cemeteries in Texas and Utah contain graves of German prisoners of war with swastika-adorned headstones and messages honoring Hitler.”
At issue are three grave sites at two cemeteries maintained by the VA: Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in Texas and Fort Douglas Post Cemetery in Utah. Both were used to inter dozens of unclaimed remains of enemy troops following World War II.
While most of the foreign troops’ grave markers list only names and dates of death, the three in question were also engraved with a swastika in the center of an iron cross alongside an inscription in German, which read, “He died far from his home for the Führer, people and fatherland.”
The four lawmakers — House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Ranking Member John Carter (R-TX), and full House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) — asserted that the continued refusal of the VA to remove the graves was “callous, irresponsible and unacceptable.”
“It is particularly troubling that VA’s refusal to replace these offensive headstones comes at a time when documented antisemitic incidents in the United States have reached a new high,” the letter stated.
The letter observed that while “leaving gravestones in VA National Cemeteries unaltered may have been a long-standing bureaucratic policy, that is no excuse for allowing it to continue.”
The four lawmakers urged: “We ask that you eliminate this antiquated policy and begin the process for removing these gravestones or having them altered immediately. It is never too late to do the right thing.”