By Vladimir Gladkov
While the US Marine Corps is still busy dealing with the scandal showing group of soldiers urinating on Taliban corpses, it now has to face another controversy. A photo of American snipers posing in front of a flag with a logo of the Nazi SS was recently leaked to the Internet starting a massive scandal. The fact that an SS banner was hung under the American flag has outraged American society, especially war veterans, former and currently serving Marines, and survivors of the Holocaust.
The photo showing a group of heavily armed US marines’ posing in front of traditional American flag and a banner with the letters “SS” in the shape of lightning bolts, precisely resembling the emblem of the notorious Nazi unit of the World War II was reportedly taken in September 2010 by members of of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion at a base in Sangin, Afghanistan. Another photo showing a marine sniper with the same SS symbol carved into the side of his rifle is believed to have been posted before 2004.
The publication of the photos has made the US Marine Corps face a bombardment of complaints and demands of a full investigation into the embarrassing fact. The feelings of the enraged public are easily to understand. The SS, or Schutzstaffel, was the police and military force of the Nazi Party, whose members pledged an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler. SS members were responsible for countless severe war crimes and known for their crucial role in the extermination of millions of Jews, gypsies and others groups condemned to obliteration by the Nazi regime. The SS was recognized a criminal organization at the Nuremberg war crime trials.
Pentagon representatives refused to say whether the Marines involved in an incident had been disciplined. At least it is known that while the battalion has been redeployed in Afghanistan, none of the troops shown in the picture are still serving with it. At the same time the Pentagon made ridiculous attempts to deny the accusations, stating that the symbol had been used by the troops to identify themselves as scout snipers, a designation unique to the Marine Corps, and that that letters “SS” had no links to the Nazis. However the Marines Corps, besieged by the enraged marine veterans stated that “Certainly, the use of the ‘SS runes’ is not acceptable and scout snipers have been addressed concerning this issue. ‘SS runes’ are prohibited from use as a symbol or any other use.”
“Rest assured, the Marine Corps does not allow the use of ‘SS runes,” says the official statement of the Corps.
Military Religious Freedom Foundation – a Washington based civil rights organization led the crusade for an immediate and full investigation into the incident.
In its statement the MRFF stated that it “is absolutely sickened by the disgusting images of members of the U.S. Marine Corps 1st Recon Battalion, Charlie Company, proudly posing in front of the U.S. flag juxtaposed alongside a symbol associated with the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, the genocide of religious minorities throughout Europe, and the forces of white supremacist racial hatred.”
The incident managed to outperform the scandal with the photos of the US marines urinating on the corpses of the Taliban militants. The publication of such pictures leaves no illusions about the roots of the anti-American feelings dominating the modern world. Posing in front of the SS banner, associated with the concentration camps, gas chambers and other horrors of the Holocaust the soldiers managed to deal an enormous amount of damage to the image of their own Army. And, deciding to ignore the shameful act, the Pentagon is only making the situation worse.