The U.S. Army is investigating an official memo distributed to Texas recruiters that included a reference to a Nazi death camp’s infamous slogan.
The investigation is being conducted by Army Recruiting Command which suspended the memo’s author, a Houston-area recruiting company commander, according to reports.
“Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Will Set You Free) NO CHANGE,” says the memo, which sets forth incentives for signing up new enlistees. “1 Contract=No Saturday work days for the remainder of the PL [phase line].”
Jews and others who were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz during World War II saw the infamous words on an iron gate above the concentration camp’s main entrance.
“Probably not a good idea to use the saying above Auschwitz Concentration camp as a recruiting incentive,” Truth of Army Recruiting, a whistleblower Facebook page, wrote Wednesday when it broke the story.
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The actual Army memo was distributed digitally and did not contain any images of Auschwitz, Army Recruiting Command spokeswoman Kelli Bland said, according to Stars and Stripes.
“We have no evidence or reason to believe that the company commander distributed a photograph of the fence, but this will be looked into as part of the investigation,” she said, the paper reported.
Bland said the commander behind the memo has apologized to the unit and arrangements have been made for the entire unit to receive additional equal opportunity training, Stars and Stripes reported.
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“Army recruiting leaders will take appropriate action once the investigation is complete and all facts are known,” she said. “When an individual enters into the military, they are held to high moral and ethical standards — soldiers who choose not to live up to our values will be held accountable for their actions.”
Andrew Hollinger, a spokesman for the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington said the reference to the Nazi phrase in the memo was “offensive to the legacy of the U.S. military which played a decisive role in defeating Nazi tyranny and liberating Nazi camps,” Newsweek reported.
The Army has seven recruiting companies in the Houston area.
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The suspended commander was not identified.