Chicago Sun-Times

Marines in trouble over Nazi flag

Posedwith banner bearing the logo of racist, murderous SS


SAN DIEGO — The Marine Corps on Thursday once again did damage control after a photograph surfaced of a sniper team in Afghanista­n posing in front of a flag with a logo resembling that of the notorious Nazi SS.

The Corps said in a statement that using the symbol was not acceptable.

However, it was a naive mistake made by Marines who believed the SS symbol was meant to represent sniper scouts and never intended to associate themselves with a racist organizati­on, said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoma­n at Camp Pendleton.

The Marines in the image will not be discipline­d because investigat­ors determined there was no malicious intent, Chapin said.

Instead, the Corps used the incident as a training tool to talk to troops about what symbols are acceptable after it became aware of the photograph last November.

The image has since surfaced on an Internet blog.

“I don’t believe that the Marines involved would have ever used any type of symbol associated with the Nazi Germany military criminal organizati­on that committed mass atrocities in WWII,” Chapin said.

It was the second time this year the Marine Corps has had to do damage control for actions of its troops. It’s also investigat­ing a separate group of Marines recorded on video urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters.

Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in Washington said he has been flooded with calls from former Marines offended by the photo and from one member of his organizati­on who is an Auschwitz concentrat­ion camp survivor.

“This is a complete and total outrage,” he said. “First we have Marines peeing on dead bodies and now this.”

The Marines in the photograph are no longer with the unit.

In the photo taken in September 2010 in the Afghanista­n town of Sangin, the Marine Corps unit is posing with guns in front of an American flag and a large blue flag with what appear to be the letters “SS” in the shape of jagged lightning bolts.

The SS, or Schutzstaf­fel, was the police and military force of the Nazi Party, which was distinct from the general army. Members pledged an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler.

SS units were held responsibl­e for many war crimes and played an integral role in the exterminat­ion of millions of Jews along with gypsies and other people who were deemed undesirabl­e.

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