Pair of Nazi tombstones with swastikas removed from the US National Cemetery in Texas

SAN ANTONIO – Two German tombs from World War II with Nazi swastikas were removed from the Fort Sam Houston national cemetery and replaced with new headstones.

The pair of headstones has become a longstanding controversy over whether they were worth preserving historical artifacts or hate emblems that should be destroyed, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The cemetery director, Aubrey David, led several workers to the graves of German prisoners of war Alfred P. Kafka and Georg Forst at about 8:15 am on Wednesday.

Each of the tombstones featured a modified Iron Cross, which represents a swastika inside a cross. Also engraved on them was the inscription: “He died far from his home for the Führer, for the people and for the homeland”.

“Clearly, it took a long time for this to happen and it is obviously the right thing to do,” said Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Foundation for Religious Freedom, which advocates unwanted religious proselytism in the military.

After learning about the tombstones last May, the foundation demanded that Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilke order them to be removed. The group also wanted Wilke to “make an immediate and sincere apology to all United States veterans and their families.”

The VA refused, saying it has a responsibility to preserve “historical resources”, even if they recognize divisive historical figures or events. But members of Congress, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and representatives Will Hurd of San Antonio and Kay Granger of Fort Worth, responded by demanding removal of the tombstones.

“I am happy that the headstones have been replaced”, Deputy Joaquin Castro. “It is shocking to think that symbols of the Third Reich and the Nazi regime would be in an American military cemetery.”

It is unclear whether a third headstone that also bears Nazi symbols at Utah’s Fort Douglas Post Cemetery has also been removed.