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Student groups at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee rallied Sunday morning to call for the prosecution of a local man who claims to be a former Waffen-SS officer and announced last week that he planned to set up a public shrine in his backyard to commemorate the life of Adolf Hitler.
Ted Junker, 87, a retired farmer from Walworth County, Wisconsin, made headlines last week when he announced that he was building a memorial to Hitler. Even after protests from county officials caused him to retract his plans, student groups say it is important to protest against Junker and his ideology.
"The fact that this Nazi has the gall to openly flaunt his vile ideology, 61 years after the defeat of fascism, is sickening," said Jonathan Brostoff, president of the Campus Organization for Israel, a UWM student organization devoted to building support and appreciation for the State of Israel, who organized the protest together with L'Haim, another Jewish student group.
"The First Amendment's protection of free speech ensures that Junker can continue his hateful propagandizing, yet it does not protect him from criminal investigation and prosecution relating to potential crimes against humanity committed during his days in the Waffen-SS," added Brostoff.
Brostoff said the goal of the protest was to urge the Office of Special Investigation at the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute Junker, who claims to have volunteered for the Nazi SS in 1940 and served on the Eastern Front in World War II.
"The SS played a key role in the Holocaust, rounding up Jews and running the concentration/extermination camps in which millions of Jews, Poles, Gypsies, Russians and Roma died," said Brostoff. "The Nuremberg Trials declared the entirety of the SS as a criminal organization, because of its implementation of racial policies of genocide in the Holocaust."
Brostoff also pointed out that Junker was not remorseful of his hateful Nazi past but rather "continues to blindly proclaim that not one person was gassed to death in the Third Reich."
Brostoff said the protesters wanted the Department of Justice to investigate Junker for war crimes or for falsifying information during his citizen application process, and to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.
"It is extremely important for us to send a strong message to the Nazi, the Department of Justice, and citizens across America. This is not happening in California or New York. This is our backyard, our state, our home," said Brostoff.