Republican Rich Iott Not Backing Down On Nazi Reenactments

Republican Congressional Candidate Rich Iott is continuing, bizarrely, to defend himself over the story of his involvement in a World War II reenactment group dedicated to a notorious Waffen SS Division:

Ohio Congressional candidate Rich Iott got grilled by Anderson Cooper last night on his rather unusual hobby of dressing up as a member of the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division, a unit in the German army during World War II.

Iott defended the members of the unit, who he said “wanted to fight what they saw as a bigger threat to them than Germany,” so they joined up with the Nazis to fight the eastern front of the war against Soviet forces. “I don’t think we can sit here and judge that today. We weren’t there the time they made those decisions,” he said.

Iott called “what happened in Germany during the second World War one of “the low points in human history,” but defended the Wiking Division when Cooper referred to them as collaborators: “I don’t know that I would put that label on them. They were doing what they thought was right for their country. And they were going out and fighting what they thought was a bigger, you know, a bigger evil.”

Iott also contended that “this particular unit was one that was never charged with war crimes,” though Cooper pointed out that one member was recently charged with the murder of 58 Jews. Iott replied: “The war on the eastern front was extremely brutal on both sides. Nobody was lily-white, that’s for sure. Horrible things that happened on both sides.”

Video:

You can visit the Wiking SS website yourself, but I think it’s clear that Iott is either completely ignoring the history of the men he chooses to memorialize, or he’s not being completely truthful about his own feelings.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    Yes, let’s have that discussion. I hope the Democratic National Committee is getting out their ads with this guy front and center.

  2. Derrick says:

    Agreed DC. If those spineless wimps at the DNC don’t make this an issue they should all be fired. I mean really! Nazi re-enactments! If Glenn Beck finds a plausible way to explain that Iott is a Democrat plant, I might have to at least hear him out on this one.

  3. Vast Variety says:

    I honestly don’t understand why this guy has to defend anything. There are war re-enactment groups all over the country and they cover pretty much any war the US has ever been in. For many years I participated in a group that did reenactments of WWII battles using mi natures and I almost always played the Germans or the Soviets becuase they have bigger tanks. Sure I never dressed up in a Nazi Uniform but I do have a replica of both the German and Soviet flags.

  4. Michael says:

    As usual OTB pushes another non-story. Way to go OTB!

  5. DC Loser says:

    Iott is at best a fascist sympathizer and worst a Nazi. His defense of the SS volunteers is almost verbatim from the Nazi propaganda and SS recruitment literature of the period. I guess volunteering for the SS was a better alternative than working in the resistance movements in the occupied countries where the men from these units originated, in his twisted world view.

  6. Porkchop says:

    Clearly, anyone who dresses up as a bad guy is just like that bad guy. Personally, I think we need to round up all those civil war reenactors (clearly pro-slavery racists), as well as revolutionary war reenactors (obviously they believe in the divine right of kings!)

    Oh – and I just realized this – we need to arrest all those thugs who dress up as Darth Vader or as Imperial Storm troopers at science fiction conventions. Dangerous psychotics, the lot of them.

  7. Michael says:

    DCLoser – your moniker says it all.

  8. DC Loser says:

    Sure Michael, nothing to see here. Move along.

  9. Vast Variety says:

    “Oh – and I just realized this – we need to arrest all those thugs who dress up as Darth Vader or as Imperial Storm troopers at science fiction conventions. Dangerous psychotics, the lot of them.”

    And we can’t forget to round up all those Klingons and Romulans.

  10. Alex Knapp says:

    @Vast Variety and Porkchop – It’s pretty clear that the issue here isn’t war re-enactment per se, but rather the membership in a group that whitewashes history and defends the Waffen-SS as an institution.

  11. Derrick says:

    “Oh – and I just realized this – we need to arrest all those thugs who dress up as Darth Vader or as Imperial Storm troopers at science fiction conventions. Dangerous psychotics, the lot of them.”

    Yes, fictional villains in movies are the exact same as butchers who assisted in real life genocide. Same exact thing. You should dress your kids up as Osama Bin Laden or Hezbollah for Halloween. I’m sure that your neighbors would find that extremely witty and amusing.

  12. DC Loser says:

    Alex – The GOP talking points don’t think that’s an issue. It’s all about nothing!

  13. Juneau: says:

    You know, if you’re going to do a WWII reenactment, SOMEONE is going to have to play the other side. This conversation is like the jello heads that complain about the Confederate soldiers when Civil War reenactments take place.

    In the words of Bob Shieffer – Is that the best you can do?

  14. Juneau: says:

    @ DC Loser

    Iott is at best a fascist sympathizer and worst a Nazi. His defense of the SS volunteers is almost verbatim from the Nazi propaganda and SS recruitment literature of the period.

    Too funny… “Playing a Nazi is strictly Verbotten! Ve haf vays to make you talk! Do you haf ze secret papers? Ve must haf ze secret papers!”

    And this from the party which has people in high places who openly affirm their admiration of Mao – a man responsible for about 40 million dead. You folks are absolutely, utterly, and irredeemably pathetic.

  15. Alex Knapp says:

    @Juneau – Once again, the issue is not that he was a re-enactor, but that he was a member of a group that whitewashed the history of a Waffen-SS unit and glorified them.

    And this from the party which has people in high places who openly affirm their admiration of Mao – a man responsible for about 40 million dead.

    (citation needed)

  16. Brummagem Joe says:

    “You should dress your kids up as Osama Bin Laden or Hezbollah for Halloween. I’m sure that your neighbors would find that extremely witty and amusing.”

    What was the name of that coming of age movie set in Baltimore where this Jewish kid dressed up as the Reichschancellor for Halloween?

  17. Brummagem Joe says:

    “And this from the party which has people in high places who openly affirm their admiration of Mao – ”

    Who went to China I wonder?

  18. legion says:

    Juneau-
    In Iott had said just what you did, and left it at that, you’re right – this would be a non-story. But when he shoots his mouth off with things like

    but defended the Wiking Division when Cooper referred to them as collaborators: “I don’t know that I would put that label on them. They were doing what they thought was right for their country. And they were going out and fighting what they thought was a bigger, you know, a bigger evil.”

    That’s where he loses it. This isn’t some random unit of conscripts he’s describing, he’s trying to whitewash an SS Panzer Division. That’s some high-grade crack he’s on.

  19. Brummagem Joe says:

    Just for Juneau and Iott…but it is a hell of a good song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzeNj1vlzAk

  20. Vast Variety says:

    Alex Knapp, have you visited their web site? Did you not see this posted?

    “This page or anyone involved in its creation, or members of reenactment groups listed here, are in no way affiliated with real, radical political organizations (i.e., KKK, Aryan Nation, American Nazi Party, etc.) and do not embrace the philosophies and actions of the original NSDAP (Nazi party), and wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities which made them infamous. May the victims of this unspeakable horror rest in peace. As we portray the German combat soldier, we are only interested in recreating his daily life, furthering our understanding of what it took to be a soldier, and at the same time having fun reliving history. We honor the men (and women) who really experienced the war, and we salute their courage and loyalty to put their lives on the line in defense of their native soil, no matter what nationality or government. ”

    and the statement “I don’t know that I would put that label on them. They were doing what they thought was right for their country. And they were going out and fighting what they thought was a bigger, you know, a bigger evil” would apply to almost every solider of every army that is currently, has ever, or will ever fight in a war for their country.

  21. Alex Knapp says:

    @Vast Variety –

    If memory serves, that statement was only published AFTER the notoriety began, not before.

    And they were going out and fighting what they thought was a bigger, you know, a bigger evil” would apply to almost every solider of every army that is currently, has ever, or will ever fight in a war for their country.

    Dude, seriously, the Waffen-SS weren’t ordinary soliders. Pick up a history book. You’d have an argument if they were re-enacting a Wehrmact group. A lot of ordinary Wehrmact were just fighting for their country. The Waffen-SS were Nazis, pure and simple.

  22. Vast Variety says:

    I’ve been studying World War II history since I was probably about 12 or 13, especially the Eastern Front. I know exactly what kind of people the Nazi’s were and the Waffen-SS. Yes they many of their ranks were evil mass murdering monsters but to them they were doing what they thought was right for their country even if it turns my stomach. But just because I get a thrill out of pushing a bunch of 72nd scale plastic replicas of PZ-IV’s and PZ-III’s around a minturized version of the French country side and I cheer with glee when my dice rolls result in me blowing the snot out of a column of Sherman’s or M10 tank Destroyers (they have some really crappy armor for something built on the body of a Sherman tank) doesn’t mean I sympathize with or want to glorify the exploits of a murderous coward like Adolf Hitler and the nuts who followed him. And Iott is no different than me or the thousands of other reenactors in this country. The only difference between him and me is that has the cash to fork out for the real toys while I’m stuck playing painting plastic tanks and jeeps, kind of like this group http://www.9thsspanzer.com/ who even have their own restored trucks, half tracks, and self propelled guns. Or like this guy http://www.mishalov.net/military-vehicles/military-vehicles.html who had probably one of the largest privately owned collections of Military vehicles in the country including and old Soviet mobile Missile Launcher.

  23. An Interested Party says:

    I look forward to the many defenders of this person also stepping forward to defend someone who would want to reenact 9/11 and dress up as one of the 19 hijackers or perhaps someone else who would want to reenact a lynching from the early 20th century and want to dress up as a member of the Klan…these things would be no big deal, right?

  24. Vast Variety says:

    An Interested Party, There is a huge difference between 9/11 which was a criminal act of mass murder and World War II.

  25. Juneau: says:

    @ An Interested PArty

    I look forward to the many defenders of this person also stepping forward to defend someone who would want to reenact 9/11 and dress up as one of the 19 hijackers …

    Reach for the stars there, buddy. If you get high enough, your crap starts to make sense. Really, really, high…

  26. Juneau: says:

    @ Alex KNapp

    (citation needed)

    For what? The fact that Mao is attributed with approximately 40 million dead,( or as many as 70 million according to some sources) or that the Obama administration has ( and had – re: Van Jones) people who openly affirm their admiration for Mao?

    In the first instance you may want to research the words “Mao deaths” , in the second instance, just google the words “Mao and Jones”, as well as “Mao and Valerie Jarrett.” Not hard to find.