October 11th, 2010
09:26 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Nazi Re-Enactment Controversy

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on 360°, hear from the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress who is taking heat for his former hobby - being a World War II re-enactor, on the German side, pretending to be a member of Adolf Hitler's elite killing unit, the SS.

Rich Iott says his hobby is being taken out of context. Swastikas were banned from their attire. The tea party favorite in Ohio wants to point out he's a re-enactor for all types of battles, including those from World War I and the U.S. Civil War.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party favorite in Nevada's U.S. Senate race is under fire for comments she made about Islam.

Last month, Sharron Angle was asked at a rally to give her feedback on a television report on how Muslims want to "take over the United States."

Angle responded: "We're talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe it isn't a widespread thing, but it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it."

"My thoughts are these, first of all, Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas, are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And, I don't know how that happened in the United States," she said. "It seems there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States."

Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly took issue with Angle's comments. You'll hear from him tonight.

Plus, the latest on the mission to rescue 33 miners in Chile. They've been trapped for more than two months, but some could be freed in about 24 hours. Gary Tuchman has a live report from the site.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. John in Pittsburgh

    This is why the Tea Party makes me very nervous.
    First, we have Rand Paul Saying he wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act.

    Then, Whitman acts like she never knew she had an illegal immagrant working for her and then fired that worker when Whitman was caught.

    Next, we have Pallidino saying bad things against gays, then Sharon Angle is denouncing Muslims.

    Now, we have Rich Lott dressing up like a Nazi while at the same time ignoring what the Jewish people had went through.

    But if I call them racists, I get accused of playing the race card.

    You have a clear choice at the polls, people! Do you want racism or untiy. Pick your poison.

    October 12, 2010 at 7:33 am |
  2. ganon ba

    Upon hearing about Mr. Iott's hobby prior to watching the A360 segment I honestly thought the media was just trying to attack this guy for something completely irrelevant. The guy likes history and reenactments, and somebody has to play the bad guy. Campaign season nonsense. Whatever.

    But after watching him speak, it really worries me that he seems so reluctant to outright condemn the character he's portraying on the field. He refused to call them collaborators, for instance.

    It's disturbing that he would be so resistant to simply calling the bad guys bad.

    Maybe he was unprepared for Cooper's questions, but his responses were...odd.

    October 12, 2010 at 5:42 am |
  3. Bob

    Re-enactments are for story telling history. There is no difference for his acting then someone who is acting as one fighting for the South in favor slavery. If we, as a society are going to keep back the ones that have to play the bad guy, then it is another sad day. Let it be for what it is, acting. There are bigger things to deal with then someone playing a character in history. Just because a person plays a character does not mean they agree of they did. You cannot even come close as to understand why they did or forced to do in that time/era. History is history, like it not. We must learn from mistakes, but to just ignore it or never ever seem like it happened is a bad thing.

    October 12, 2010 at 5:26 am |
  4. Neil Deremer

    As I watch this segment, I sit in general disbelief. Disbelief that anyone who is in the political profession could even fathom that essentially supporting the actions of the Waffen SS would be acceptable. The most absurd part of this is that this person, whom is running for a seat in our government (?!) has failed to realize that his logic is fundamentally flawed. To worship the beliefs of a group capable of such horrific crimes against humanity is disgusting. I hope that Ohio feels the same. Get out of our country.

    October 12, 2010 at 5:25 am |
  5. Robert

    The man WAS a Re-enactor, not a nazi. he was also an american in other re-enactments. Not all germans killed or rounded up jews and slavs for the camps. Some died for their country. Some didn't even know what was going on at home at the time. Jews are the first to say,"never forget". As far as I know, this man is doing more so that people will remember than most. remember "RE-ENACTMENT". Find something else to hang him with, not this bullcrap.

    October 12, 2010 at 5:20 am |
  6. Sandy

    Anderson, you say you get reenactment but you don't get playing SS. That's like saying you get being an actor but you don't get playing a role.??? That's what acting is. How can the complete story be told if some of the actors don't play the part of the bad guys?

    October 12, 2010 at 3:01 am |
  7. Robert

    First, get this fellow's name right people: It's Iott, not Lott. And there was no re-enactment of anything specific. There were no two sides, there was no side dressed as the Russians–just these obvious Nazi sympathizers playing dress up and running around shooting guns. The SS were not regular army conscripts. They were Nazis and tasked with non-battlefield murder and extermination as well as fighting. Comparing them to the Confederacy is ridiculous. Did Confederates exterminate millions of innocent people, or any really? "The Russians were just as bad" is another tactic of this guy's defenders. We were on the side of the Russians. Comparing this to countless movies with Nazis doesn't even deserve a reply. The defenders of this guy be they Tea Party like him or whatever show themselves for what they are. Read all the stories, check the web, check their website if it's still there–it is plain what these people are. Lastly, it is illegal in Germany to dress up as a Nazi, they have learned, have we?

    October 12, 2010 at 2:58 am |
  8. DOUG

    People!!!!! He was ACTING!!!! If you really believe he is supporting the Nazi movement because he ACTED the part of one in reenactments....... then who did he support in the Civil War reenactments that he participated (ACTED) in? He did play the part of both Union and Confederate soldiers in other reenactments,

    If dressing to LOOK like someone evil is wrong. GOODBYE movies, plays and Holloween!!!

    Don't take this political smear out of context without knowing all the facts.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:53 am |
  9. Tim

    Holy... I can't believe the insane anger people are heaping on Iott. I have on occasion helped out with historical reenactments myself, and have usually ended up playing parts for the Whermacht. Why? Because I was there to take part, and the American slots almost always fill up first. (Everyone wants to play the hero!) But someone has to play the villan, otherwise the heroes won’t have anything to do. Did you ever play cops and robbers as a kid? Ever play it with only cops? No, because you can’t have a game of cops and robbers without some robbers to catch. I doubt many wanted to be the robber, but you worked out some system to rotate through that role so it gets played.

    It’s the same here. Rich Iott has played many more of the traditional Hero roles in his time, but he did his time as the villain as well so the whole thing can keep going. That so many people can’t see this, that so many are focusing on the 3 years out of 35, proves to me that our country is doomed. Either that or I’m a Nazi and I didn’t know it.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:24 am |
  10. Charles

    What the heck is a grown man dressing up in a Nazi outfit trying to fool? An insult to all Americans or purely just a child that missed out on to many Halloween's. There are enough children in politics, please do no elect another!!
    Charles from Vancouver

    October 12, 2010 at 2:22 am |
  11. rob

    I played Cowboys and Indians when I was a kid. I played either side at one time or another. I guess my time in Hell is secured.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:05 am |
  12. Dale R

    If Rich Iott is to be condemned for reenacting a significant period in world history then we must condemn actors who have portrayed German Wiking soldiers in film as well. Now, who would seriously believe that. If society succeeds at burying historical accounts of horrifying events and people then we will have lost our baseline to prevent such atrocities in the future. Be fair, people.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  13. Mike Ward

    So does this mean I can't dress up as a Storm Trooper at a Star Wars convention? Or as a Klingon at a Star Trek convention? Not all Horror flick fans or Death Metal fans are psychopathic killers. I can choose to be the villan in a video game. What about the actors of the nazi soldiers in "Inglorious Bastards"...do they take on the same beliefs of the nazis? They're actors! Just like re-enacting WWII nazis. They're re-enACTORS! Give him a break!

    October 12, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  14. Randy Scott

    Iott speaks of keeping history alive and how the group does public displays at airshows and such....hmmm, when was the last time they dressed up for a re-enactment and in the name of "history" lined up people who portrayed Jews at the time and re-enacted the shooting of them in the back of the head? Of course, as Iott wants to portray history, this would be one of those authentic things to do, you know.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:21 am |
  15. Seb

    Granted this guy did not handle the interview well and should have acknowledged that the website, which I dont think he is in charge of vetting, could have been more clear. However, it is a free country and the man in entitled to have his hobby. He does not seem to me to be pro NAZI nor is he a Holocaust denier. The re-enactment calls for both sides to be displayed and it more valuable then showing the US side which Hollywood has taken care of for many years. History is history, what happened happened and we need to ensure people learn from it. This just makes for a great news caption but that is all. Doubt he will survive it politically but this is all nonsense.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:20 am |
  16. Jay Brookers

    Just because this man re-enacts history does not make him a bigot.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  17. ARI

    I enjoyed your piece that aired tonight about Republican candidate, Rich Lott, facing criticism for participating in reenactments of WWII German soldiers in Nazi Germany. The story reminded me why I enjoy the format of your show that "keeps people honest", particularly with news stories that draws public attention or has controversy attached. Hopefully your viewers this evening were able to appropriately qualify this candidate's judgement and sensitivity on the issue identified and its potential implications so they can draw their own well informed conclusions.
    Thank you.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:14 am |
  18. Alicia

    Just saw the interview and whoa...

    Iott went from being caught in a distasteful reenactment, to being exposed as Nazi sympathizer.

    I'm still in shock. He actually said that no one living today can know what life was like back then, or judge the SS's actions in Eastern Europe. SERIOUSLY!? There are no Holocaust survivors living today? There are no records (written-audio-visual) from WWII? There are no historians writing hundreds and hundreds of books on the war?

    As for the comments regarding reenactors vs. actors. There is a world of difference between the two! To compare the performance of an award-winning actor like Ralph Fiennes playing a cruel Nazi in Schindler's List with someone grinning like a cat as he plays at plowing through Hungary is ridiculous. Acting = playing a part to tell a story (typically the truth, as in Schindler's List). Reenacting should be truthful, and generally is.

    What Rich Iott and his Nazi-loving friends did were not educational historical reenactments. They were an insult to the true, historical reenactments that are done. These "Wikings" sought to glorify the atrocities committed by the Nazi SS.

    Rich Iott has no place as a representative for anyone other that the severely deranged.

    Best of luck to Iott in getting elected in Toledo, a city with large Hungarian and Polish populations. 😉

    October 12, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  19. Louise

    I feel sick to my stomack to think this guy would get this far in the political world when you think what he stands for. Anderson quite adeptly asked him very specific questions and he refused to condemn the despicable acts of the SS. There is no comparison between other reenactments and this one. All wars are bad but SS stood for ethnical clensing. Nobody would ever applaud a kkk reenactment. This is no different.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
  20. Deborah Gouin

    As a historian who has studied and taught holocaust and WWII history, I do not believe dressing in a Nazi SS uniform and enacting the crimes committed against innocent people the way to teach history. The SS was a protection squadron for Hitler. They were not the regular German army. The SS were responsible for rounding up and killing or enslaving Jews, Romas and others identified as inferior races.
    How Mr. Iott can defend this role playing on national television as similar to Civil War enactment is unbelievable. It is disturbing that he will not answer what he thinks about the SS or what the group hopes to achieve. If is is to keep the history of WWII alive there are better ways to accomplish that.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
  21. Faith

    Hopefully he will not make it and be the end of his political career. We cannot afford these kind of thought process as it is very harmful to the fondation and fundamentals of who we are as a country.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  22. Jim L.

    True, somebody has to play the bad guy in a re-enactment. But Rich Lott never even acknowledged the Nazi SS were in fact "bad guys". Anderson, you gave him plenty of opportunities to denounce them and what they stood for. He never did. He's clearly a Nazi sympathizer.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  23. linda smith

    I agree with Bryon. My husband at one time was a civil war reinactor and would participate as both a southern or northern soldier. It was purely a historical exercise that was a fun hobby as well. All boys love to dress up and play “soldier”. Unfortunately, your guest was a poor speaker that was unable to voice an educated or well thought out opinion. The fact that a reinactor plays the role of a southern soldier, in no way insinuates that he is automatically a bigoted racist. Anderson, I love your show, but in this case you are indeed going for ratings and not the truth. If in fact, he is a Nazi sympathizer, then shame on him. However, this "news story" was simply sensationalism and not well researched.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  24. TIM


    You could't bring yourself to call the SS murderers and butchers. Historic re-enactment to educate are done with an audience. All I have seen are blonde men playing NAZI! Fun to see him blame Ms. Kaptur for his "hobby"
    What an insult to every WWII vet from the European theater. How ironice that Marcy authored the legislation Honoring our Vets with the WWII memorial on the Mall in DC....while Iott trashes that memory. What an embarassment to all of us in NW Ohio.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  25. Susan Berusch

    Hi Anderson,

    You did a great job interviewing Mr. Lott. Had he agreed with you that these officers weren NOT valiant men and were war criminals I would not have been concerned about his hobby. When he said WWII was a low point in history he seemed detached from his words and from the horror of the Holocaust. It is interesting how some people (like yourself) who are still so troubled by WWII and other more recent genocides and others who don't connect with the history and how it can repeat itself.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  26. carrie wisner

    He couldn't give any part of an answer to some very direct questions. The guy is disturbed.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  27. Todd from New Rochelle


    Thanks for putting this in the light it deserved. This guy seems innocent with a simple explanation but when you probed him as to if the people he was reenacting were positive or negative he would not answer and clearly his response was of a coward and a what he didn't say spoke much louder then what he did say. And for him to say that he goes into schools to teach this is absurd. He insults basic common sense, shame on him or anyone who believes his cowardice. This guys a bum and he should be voted out and exposed for who he is and that is clear a Nazi sympathizer!

    October 11, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  28. Trent Lee

    Just wanted to point out that these guys that dress up and participate in these reinactments are nothing more than actors. I think it does them a disservice to suggest that they are anymore than that, or that because they did so that they are somehow a bad person or have some nefarious agenda. If we go that route, we might as well start attacking all actors for what they do. There is NO difference!

    October 11, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  29. CJ

    I am German born and raised
    And disgusted anyone would wear that uniform after what these MONSTERS have done!

    October 11, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  30. Ulrich Lechner

    Rich Iott is a liar. Look at the way he was stammering and stuttering..

    October 11, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  31. Bruce

    AC you were well prepared with facts. Its obivious that the politician wasnt around during the war and new none of the facts or he was ignoring the truth. He talked out of both sides of his mouth, like most politicians.

    October 11, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
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