BERLIN, Germany — The German army on Wednesday apologized for posting a photo on Instagram of a military uniform complete with two Iron Crosses bearing the Nazi swastika and appearing to celebrate it as “retro”.
After media reports sparked outrage, the army removed the picture of the Nazi-era Wehrmacht uniform and explained that it was an “unacceptable mistake.”
The Bundeswehr said it was seeking to do a photo-essay on the influence of military uniforms on fashion through the ages but failed to provide the correct historical context in its captions.
“We are very sorry,” it said.
“The uniform is an item on exhibition in our military history museum in Dresden. But we did not correctly label the image historically and gave it a wrong and unsuitable caption,” it added on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Bild daily, which first reported on the photo, said it carried a “Retro” sticker and bore the caption “To this day, military style elements remain in haute couture.”
Photo of the Wehrmacht uniform carrying the swastika was shared with the caption:
"Fashion is also an aspect. To this day, there are military style elements in Haute Couture." pic.twitter.com/GdxwKWlsqn
— EHA News (@eha_news) November 27, 2019
The Bundeswehr has over the years repeatedly come under fire over embarrassing associations with Germany’s militaristic past.
Last year, then defense minister Ursula von der Leyen ordered the Bundeswehr to cleanse itself of all links to the Wehrmacht, after learning that steel helmets and memorabilia of the Nazi-era army were openly displayed at one of its barracks.
She also ordered barracks still named after WWII figures, like field marshal Erwin Rommel, to be stripped of their names.