Update: ADL praised the U.S. Marine Corps and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for taking "clear and immediate steps" in response to the photograph. More
New York, NY, February 10, 2012 … In reaction to a photo showing a U.S. sniper team in Afghanistan posing in front of a flag displaying the Nazi SS symbol, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on the U.S. Marines Corps and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to put into place an educational program that would sensitize American servicemen and women about Nazi symbols and America's role in defeating Hitler and ending the Holocaust.
The League called on the Pentagon to reinstate a special curriculum on the Holocaust that it developed 30 years ago with the Department of Defense to train senior officers in the military.
"The troops who posed in front of this Nazi SS flag obviously had no idea what it truly symbolized," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. "We developed a history curriculum 30 years ago, for there was a need then, as there is a need now, for our troops to be sensitized to the meaning of such symbols and the general nature of hate."
"As the years pass, the memory of the ultimate sacrifices of American servicemen in World War II is being forgotten, and the symbols of the Nazis are losing their meaning to young people who have no memory and little knowledge of that time in history," said Mr. Foxman.
Thirty years ago, the U.S. Defense Department developed in partnership with ADL a history curriculum on the Holocaust. The curriculum was used for at least a decade in part of the training that senior military officers received. "The need is even greater today than it was then," Mr. Foxman said.
The photograph of the sniper team, which reportedly was taken in September 2010, surfaced recently on an Internet blog. It was taken in the Afghanistan town of Sangin and shows a Marine Corps unit posing with guns in front of an American flag and a dark blue flag with the signature SS lightning bolts of the Schutzstaffel, the police and military force of the Nazi party.