Removal of Nazi Symbols and Inscriptions on Headstones of Prisoners of War in VA National Cemeteries [Updated February 12, 2021]   [open pdf - 441KB]

From the Overview: "During World War II, hundreds of thousands of German, Italian, and Japanese prisoners of war (POWs) were held in the United States at various military installations. During this time, the U.S. military standardized gravestones for its servicemembers but not for POWs. Under article 120 of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the United States must 'ensure that prisoners of war who have died in captivity are honourably buried ... and that their graves are respected, suitably maintained and marked so as to be found at any time.' [...] In 2020, three of these POW headstones became a topic of controversy. [...] On May 12, 2020, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's Founder and President, Michael L. Weinstein, called on then-Secretary of VA [Department of Veterans Affairs], Robert Wilkie, to immediately remove the three World War II-era headstones located in the two VA national cemeteries. VA said it appears that these three headstones are the only ones bearing a swastika or a Nazi Germany-related inscription, and proceeded with the Section 106 Review process under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). On December 23, 2020, the VA cemetery director and workers at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery removed and replaced the two controversial headstones. As of February 2021, it is unknown whether the third headstone, located in Utah, has been removed or replaced."

Report Number:
CRS In Focus, IF11587
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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