Army officials at Fort Bragg, North Carolina today announced they are opening an investigation into a video posted on social media showing an Army officer telling a joke about Jewish people and the Holocaust.
The video, which began circulating on Twitter, shows Army 2nd Lt. Nathan Freihofer in civilian clothes standing in front of a mirror telling the hateful joke as he appears to render a Nazi salute.
"Listen to this one, what's a Jewish person's favorite, uh, Pokemon character? Ha ha. Ash," Freihofer said, breaking into a giggle. "And if you get offended, get the f--- out because it's a joke. Don't be a p----."
Freihofer is a popular TikTok influencer with 2.9 million followers. "*Videos do not represent the US ARMY," his TikTok profile reads. Many of his videos feature him in his Army camouflage working uniform.
The video with the Holocaust joke began to get more attention within the military community after Task and Purpose managing editor Paul Szoldra tweeted about it Monday.
The XVIII Airborne Corps quickly tweeted a response to the video.
"We are investigating reports of a soldier assigned to XVIII Airborne Corps allegedly making vile remarks on a social media video," the tweeted statement said. "The statement made in the video is completely inconsistent with our values. We will review all facts and take appropriate action."
XVIII Airborne spokesman Col. Joe Buccino told Military.com that the Fort Bragg officials have confirmed that Freihofer is a second lieutenant assigned to the XVIII Airborne and that the "highest levels of command are engaged in this."
The video ignited a storm of angry comments on Twitter.
"This person is in the military?" one reader commented. "This person is trusted to handle weapons and protect this country? This person lacks character."
Another person tweeted, "Tell this soldier, to try saying that joke to my face. I've stood where the ashes of millions lie. Under Title 10, of the [Uniform Code of Military Justice], Court Martial is warranted."
Another reader called the officer disgusting.
"I'm 82nd legacy, I served in Germany, I've been to Dachau. This 2nd Lt. is a disgusting example of what is WRONG right now! He does not need to be a leader of troops! PERIOD!"
In December 2019, the XVIII apologized after posting on social media channels a large photo of a notorious Nazi war criminal responsible for the massacre of American soldiers during the Ardennes Offensive when the command commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
The Dec. 16 post, which ran on the Facebook pages of the XVIII Airborne Corps, 10th Mountain Division and the Defense Department, depicts a color image of SS Lt. Col. Joachim Peiper, a former adjutant to Heinrich Himmler.
The post resulted in outrage on Facebook and Twitter, prompting the XVIII Airborne officials to issue a statement saying that the post was "in no way intended to glorify the German forces, but to fully portray the odds stacked up against the Americans by December 19th."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.