Debbie Wasserman Schultz praises VA decision to remove Nazi headstones

debbie wasserman schultz
The graves are located at VA cemeteries and contain remains of German soldiers.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz says the Department of Veterans Affairs made the right call after ordering the removal of three prisoner of war headstones featuring Nazi paraphernalia.

Two of those headstones are located at a VA cemetery in Texas. The third is located in Utah. The VA has not yet released a timeline for when they will be removed.

The VA originally resisted calls to remove the headstones. Wasserman Schultz said she’s glad the agency decided to reverse that decision Monday.

“I am grateful that Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie initiated the process required to replace German POW headstones that bear offensive swastika symbols and Nazi inscriptions honoring Hitler in our VA National Cemeteries,” Wasserman Schultz said late Monday night.

“The families of soldiers who fought against intolerance and hatred must never be forced to confront glorification of those very ideologies when visiting their loved ones. VA’s initial decision to leave the gravestones in place was callous and irresponsible, but today’s decision is an honorable move in the right direction.”

The controversial headstones contain the remains of German troops and were located alongside American graves at a pair of separate VA cemeteries.

Wilkie testified on the issue in front of the House last week. During those remarks, he argued federal law limits his ability to remove the historical remnants. Wilkie also expressed hesitation in taking down the Nazi headstones, citing their historical relevance.

“I happen to think that making sure when people visit our cemeteries they are informed of that horror is an important thing to do,” Wilkie argued.

Late Monday, Wilkie changed his tune.

“Americans must always remember the horror of the Nazi regime and why so many Americans sacrificed so much to free the world from its reign of terror,” Wilkie said.

“It is understandably upsetting to our Veterans and their families to see Nazi inscriptions near those who gave their lives for this nation. That’s why VA will initiate the process required to replace these POW headstones.”

After Wilkie originally waffled in the issue, Wasserman Schultz added her name to a bipartisan letter condemning the agency’s lack of urgency. Now, she says she will keep an eye on the process to make sure the VA follows through on the new position.

“I will eagerly monitor how VA moves forward with this process, including how they choose to provide historical context to enemy prisoners of war buried in U.S. Veterans cemeteries,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“We must make sure we don’t erect totems to intolerance, allowing their history to be studied without causing pain for those most affected by it.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].

One comment

  • Andy

    June 2, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Oh, Debbie. Yes, it was a terrible part of history.

    But if it “causes pain” to the few remaining people who experienced it, they need to stop dwelling upon it and be grateful for what they now have, including the freedoms that they enjoy. That doesn’t happen by mandating what others can see and experience. Your constituents don’t have to forget about the very distant past if they don’t want to, but it is really time to move on. People like you, Debbie, keep reminding them by silly things like this. Doesn’t the country have more critical issues? What are you being paid to do?

    Many people, ideologies, and yes, religions, experienced loss over the centuries because of their beliefs. But Holocaust-era people are among the most blatantly self-conscious and demanding of attention. Why? The significant difference between them and that which is currently occurring in the streets is that they are not rioting. In the grand scheme of history, it was another unfortunate period. Unfortunate periods came before and there will be more.

    Understanding and honoring one’s own history is one thing–but it is not everyone’s history nor does everyone care to the same degree. You and some others have built political careers on rather meaningless undertakings like this. It has served your purposes, but how about doing something meaningful? To the extent that this issue is of any real importance, which it does not seem to be, your politicization of it has certainly cheapened it.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704