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article imageUS politician criticized for wearing Nazi uniform

By Lynn Curwin     Oct 10, 2010 in Politics
An American politician has been criticized for dressing in a Nazi uniform, but he says he is simply a history buff who takes part in re-enactments.
Rich Iott, a Republican congressional candidate was involved with a group called Wiking, which re-enacted the exploits of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking.
The Atlantic reported that Iott used the name Reinhard Pferdmann, which he described as being his German alter ego.
“Never, in any of my re-enacting of military history, have I meant any disrespect to anyone who served in our military or anyone who has been affected by the tragedy of war, especially the Jewish Community,” he said in a statement on his web site. “I have immense respect for veterans who served our country valiantly, particularly those who fought to rid the world of tyranny and aggression by relegating Nazism to the trash heap of history. I also believe we need to ‘never forget’ what happened to Jews during that war.”
He said that respect for the military and veterans and concern for the victims of war is one of the reasons he studied military history.
“I have been involved in historical re-enacting from many different eras since I was in college,” he added. “When my son was old enough to participate, it became a hobby that the two of us could do together and I’m grateful for the father-son bonding we shared as we participated in the events.”
His Democratic opponent, Marcy Kaptor, who currently represents the 9th Congressional District told Fox Toledo: "My first reaction was shock, then my second reaction was dismay, and my third reaction was disgust, from what I've seen.”
Iott said the fact that someone puts on a uniform and plays a role does not represent who they are.
The Wiking web site states: “Nazi Germany had no problem in recruiting the multitudes of volunteers willing to lay down their lives to ensure a "New and Free Europe", free of the threat of Communism. National Socialism was seen by many in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and other eastern European and Balkan countries as the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life, despite the true underlying totalitarian (and quite twisted, in most cases) nature of the movement.”
The web site says that thousands of these valiant men died defending their countries and the members of the group salute them.
“No matter how unsavory the Nazi government was, the front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS (in particular the foreign volunteers) gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free,” it states.
Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., a retired history professor and author of "Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933-45," told The Atlantic that the people who wrote this have “a sanitized, romanticized view of what occurred" and that re-enactments like the Wiking's are illegal in Germany and Austria.
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