Rich Iott

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A lunatic Chaplin imitator
and his greatest fans

Icon nazi.svg
First as tragedy
Then as farce

Rich Iott, more commonly known as "that Nazi reenactment guy," is a former grocer and direct-to-video schlock producer from Ohio who rose to lesser fame for arguably surpassing the batshit-levels of Sharron Angle and Carl Paladino during the 2010 midterm elections. He stood as a Republican candidate for Ohio's 9th Congressional district, which consists mostly of Toledo. Toledo being one of Ohio's few "blue" strongholds, he was basically screwed from the start.

What happened next didn't help. He ran on a typical wingnut Teabagger platform: Deport all the illegals, finish the dang fence, keep the gays out of 'Murrica, Obamacare is health care rationing. What he's most remembered for, of course, was the revelation that he had been a long-time participant in a Nazi military reenactment unit. The Atlantic first broke the story, in which he staked out his "I am not a Nazi" position (though he failed to sing the "I Was Not a Nazi Polka"):

When contacted by The Atlantic, Iott confirmed his involvement with the group over a number of years, but said his interest in Nazi Germany was historical and he does not subscribe to the tenets of Nazism. "No, absolutely not," he said. "In fact, there's a disclaimer on the [Wiking] website. And you'll find that on almost any reenactment website. It's purely historical interest in World War II."[1]

Iott later said in an interview with Anderson Cooper:

They were doing what they thought was right for their country. And they were going out and fighting what they thought was a bigger, you know, a bigger evil.[2]

Historians were skeptical about the version of history portrayed by the Wiking reenactment unit, which whitewashes the actions of the unit:

"These guys don't know their history," said Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., a retired history professor and author of "Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933-45," which chronicles an SS division. "They have a sanitized, romanticized view of what occurred.

"What you often hear is that the [Wiking] division was never formally accused of anything, but that's kind of a dodge," says Prof. Rob Citino, of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas, who examined the Wiking website. "The entire German war effort in the East was a racial crusade to rid the world of 'subhumans,' Slavs were going to be enslaved in numbers of tens of millions. And of course the multimillion Jewish population of Eastern Europe was going to be exterminated altogether. That's what all these folks were doing in the East. It sends a shiver up my spine to think that people want to dress up and play SS on the weekend."

House Whip Eric Cantor repudiated Iott's behavior, but Weeper John Boehner thought he was just peachy and backed his campaign.[3] In a victory for sanity, he lost his election. Considering what would happen to the Republican party 6 years after he lost, his candidacy in hindsight was either a lot more tragic or darkly amusing.

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