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Nazi Headstones Removed

Last spring, a retired U.S. military colonel visiting the grave of his grandfather, who fought the Nazis in World War II, was sickened to discover headstones of German POWs with swastikas and inscriptions extolling their service to their "Fuhrer" in the same Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery where his grandfather and numerous other World War II veterans are buried.

“The fact that they’re doing this literally — they were trying very hard not to have anyone see it shows that they were embarrassed, they don’t like having to do it, and it’s as simple as that.” — Mikey Weinstein

That retired U.S. military colonel contacted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which immediately demanded the replacement of the headstones. MRFF’s propelling the story into the media gained the support of many Jewish and other civil rights organizations, and even members of Congress, who also demanded that the offensive stones be removed.
In spite of VA Secretary Robert Wilkie’s vowing for weeks to preserve the headstones, the coalition spearheaded by MRFF was successful, and on June 1 Secretary Wilkie caved. The swastika-adorned headstones would be removed. And now, more than six months later, they finally have been.

As reported today by the San Antonio Express-News, at 8:15 this morning, workers at the cemetery quietly replaced the headstones of German prisoners of war Alfred P. Kafka and Georg Forst, with no notification by the VA to the media. Fortunately, the San Antonio Express News was tipped off and was there to capture the long-awaited scene, not allowing this culmination of a hard fought fight to go unnoticed.

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Upon hearing of the headstones’ removal, MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein, himself a Jewish veteran and former Air Force lawyer, told the San Antonio Express-News:

“Clearly it took a long time for this to happen and it’s obviously the right thing to have been done.”

Regarding the secrecy with which the removal was done, Weinstein added: 

“The fact that they’re doing this literally — they were trying very hard not to have anyone see it shows that they were embarrassed, they don’t like having to do it, and it’s as simple as that.”

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Weinstein also told the San Antonio Express-News that had the headstones not been removed, MRFF was preparing to file a writ of mandamus with a federal court in San Antonio, but wanted to wait until the Biden administration came into power.

Chris Rodda
MRFF Senior Research Director