US military sparks outrage over highlighting Nazi on anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge
A renowned Nazi war criminal was put in a positive light by the US Army recently, in what might be one of the most bizarre military PR blunders of recent memory.
The 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, a pivotal World War II battle that would ultimately signal impending defeat for Nazi Germany at the hands of the Allied forces, was highlighted by the XVIII Airborne Corps on social media in a strange way.
Instead of the usual depiction of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne or the 1st Infantry Division pushing through the Ardennes, the Corps Public Affairs team decided to highlight a striking, colorized photo of Nazi war criminal SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper, who was found guilty of ordering the massacre of US POWs at Malmedy.
“The fate of his beloved nation rested on his ability to lead his men,” the XVIII Airborne Corps wrote on a Monday Facebook post.
Following Hitler’s orders to show a level of brutality better suited to the Eastern Front, Peiper gave an order of “no quarter” and showed no compassion towards civilians or POWs.
According to the Washington Post, the post by the XVIII Airborne Corps was shared on the 10th Mountain Division’s Facebook Page, as well as the page for the DoD.
“I am dumbfounded by the decision to prominently display a Nazi on military social media on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge,” Lt. Colonel Brian Fickel wrote on Twitter.
The Corps ultimately began defending their post, claiming they were simply setting up the “bad guy” of the story to push a multi-post narrative.
“Sometimes in movies, the movie will create a sense of tension by introducing a bad guy,” the unit responded to one critic, who accused them of glorifying a Nazi. “It is a technique of effective storytelling.”
In one post, the unit called Peiper a “terrible person” but an “effective combat leader” who “rocketed through the ranks during the war, racking up medals, & promotions.” The post was later deleted.
The Army has yet to respond on the matter.
Peiper was later convicted of war crimes and served nearly twelve years in prison. He would later work for Porsche and died in 1976.
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