update deskU.S. News

National Guard unit deletes Instagram post of soldier with Nazi patch

The image came from the 20th Special Forces Group stationed in Birmingham, Ala.

Waffen SS-Totenkopf-Division
German Nazi Waffen SS-Totenkopf-Division in Russia, Sept. 23, 1941. Credit: German Federal Archives via Wikimedia Commons.

A Totenkopf—the skull and crossbones symbol used by the Nazi SS-Totenkopfverbände division that administered concentration camps during World War II—has shown up on the back of a helmet worn by a National Guardsman in the U.S. South.

The 20th Special Forces Group, based in Birmingham, Ala., shared an image on March 24 featuring the antisemitic symbol on its Instagram page with the caption: “That weekend feeling. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Don’t stop training. Don’t get complacent.”

The image was soon deleted from the account, and the army has begun an investigation, said Maj. Russell Gordon, spokesperson for 1st Special Forces Command.

“The use of symbols and patches depicting historic images of hate is not tolerated and a clear violation of our values,” he added.

The SS-Totenkopfverbände, known as the Death’s Head Formations, has emerged as one of the most common and popular symbols utilized by neo-Nazis. The Anti-Defamation League noted that “it is this particular image of a skull and crossbones that is considered a hate symbol, not any image of a skull and crossbones.”

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