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  • Marty Gold

Teen's Nazi Admiration Spirals Out Of Control

Last Thursday evening, an anonymous tip arrived in the Shomrim Winnipeg inbox.

"My friend saw this picture circulating on social media, he's a kid from Regina."

The email continued "Who the F is that behind the child, is that a kid or a parent?"

In the photo, a young teen is standing in grey sweatpants and no shirt. On his left bicep a red armband was drawn with a crude, disjointed swastika over top.

But, whoever the artist was straightened out the lines perfectly for the large version of the Nazi symbol on his chest and stomach.

There is also a swastika on his right cheek, and one in the middle of his forehead. Four swastikas in total are visible.

Completing his Adolph Hitler look is the narrow black-marker mustache and a 'Zeig Heil' salute with his right arm.

By utilizing contacts in the Regian area, Shomrim was able to establish the identity of the youth.

There is another person, seemingly another youth, crouching behind him, holding the teen's left shoulder steady, while their other hand is angled in a way that strongly suggests another swastika is being placed on the teens' back. Shomrim, a newly launched rapid response and patrol organization with 4 chapters in Canada, has not established that person's identity.

The teenage boy's disturbing facination with Hitler spun beyond his control when his Snapchat photo of his pose went viral within his circle of friends, and more viral when they shared it with their friends.

Concerned parents followed the advice of Shomrim and by Wednesday had contacted school officials and the Regina police about the "Hitler Youth" photo.

Shomrim also learned that accusations of "snitches" and the potential of a rhyming consequence for them was spread to those students who shared the photo with their parents.

Ron East, founder of Shomrim, shared the photo with members of the Jewish community in Regina, which according to the 2016 Census has a Jewish population of 630 people. Waves of shock quickly spread.

One stated "This is horrifying! Why is a child pretending to be Hitler? This just isn't something that happens in Regina every day."

Another contacted, outraged that a teen would proudly pose adorned with Third Reich imagery, and hearkened to the swastika flag controversy in May of last year in Kelliher, about 140KM northeast of Regina.

As I reported, the Nazi and Confederate flags were hoisted by a 34 year old man over a home in Kelliher for a day - before an angry First Nations man climbed up, tore them down, and famously burned them in a viral video.

This is the second incident in recent months I am aware of, where a child dressed like a Nazi.

Last October a boy at a Utah elementary school attended the Halloween costume parade - in a brownshirt outfit with a swastika armband and Hitler mustache.

A photo showing the boy’s costume was first posted to Facebook by a mother of another child at the elementary school, who told Deseret News the pre-teen intimidated minority schoolmates at recess by tossing the Nazi salute at them.

As reported by the Washington Post, a different mother called the school to complain but the school’s explanation for the incident was not satisfactory. “The fact that it was at a school, he had to have been seen by his teacher, by multiple people." she told KSTU-TV.

“I was told they thought he was Charlie Chaplin, and I’m like, he has a whole swastika on his arm.”

Neither my investigation to this stage, or the information acquired by Shomrim, has uncovered evidence any adults were aware of or involved in the "Hitler Youth" make-up session as it transpired. While antisemitic incidents are proven to be on the rise, so, it seems, are public appearances of Nazi costuming and Hitler tribute acts.

Only by exposing incidents with proper investigation and perspective can our communities identify and assess threats, and prepare to protect themselves from harassment and physical attacks. Our approach to modern Jewish Journalism is the best tool to build that capacity.

My exclusive reports earlier this week about antisemitic " $hitler's Lists" that were distributed by fax and emails across Winnipeg, and the background details I uncovered, has shocked Jewish people and their allies in Canada.

It's easy to write reviews of annual award dinners and holiday celebrations. They also form part of our mandate.

But right now in 2020, it is crucial to expose emerging dangers and work with officials and institutions to ensure public security and safety stay in the spotlight.

We have made an urgent appeal for readers and supporters to step forward as illustrated.

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