A Jewish man stands near some of the 127 graves desecrated by vandals with Nazi swastikas and anti-semitic slogans in the Jewish cemetery of Herrlisheim .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An infamous Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier was laid to rest earlier this week in one of America's most solemn graveyards, Arlington National Cemetery, The Huffington Post reported Wednesday.
Willis Cato, who received the Purple Heart while serving in the Philippines during WWII, died last October at the age of 89.
All recipients of the Purple Heart, awarded to service-members who are either wounded or killed while serving in the US military, are entitled to burial at the Arlington, Virginia cemetery. The US Army states that the only criteria for interment at the cemetery is to be honorably discharged and not convicted of a state or federal crime.
According to the Huffington Post, when asked about Cato's long history of discrimination and anti-Jewish beliefs, a spokesperson for the graveyard said that an individual's political views does not effect their eligibility for burial.
Todd Blodgett, who spied on the professed Nazi-sympathizer for the FBI from 2000-2002, said Cato wanted to be buried in Arlington as one last act of contempt for the United States.
"He was laughing about it; 'I’m probably America’s biggest Hitler fan, but I'll be buried alongside all these World War II vets,’” Blodgett told HuffPost in November.
Shortly after Cato's release from the armed services, he renounced the United States and its efforts against the Nazi regime, once writing: "Hitler's defeat was the defeat of Europe. And of America."
He subsequently became a marginalized yet influential figure in anti-Semitic hate circles during the 1960's, focused mainly on historical revisionist efforts that focused on Holocaust denial.
At the height of Cato's influence in the 1980's, an estimated 400,000 people subscribed to a weekly newsletter he published called the Liberty Lobby that traded in anti-Jewish hate speech.
Asked to comment on the circumstances of Cato's interment, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called Cato’s interment at Arlington a “national disgrace.”
“For a person who supported a man responsible for the greatest mass murder in the history of mankind to be buried in the sacred ground where service members who fought to do everything to defeat this man, it profanes the cemetery,” Hier said.
“If Hitler had won the war, defeating first Britain and then the United States, Willis Cato would have been a perfect candidate to be a cabinet member in Hitler’s government,” he added.