Overnight Monday, an “unknown individual” stole the U.S. and German flags from a American unit’s headquarters in southern Germany and raised the Confederate flag, officials confirmed to Army Times.
Military police at Rose Barracks, Germany, began an investigation after “an unknown individual entered the 2d Cavalry Regiment’s headquarters building” and stole the flags, according to Maj. John Ambelang, a unit spokesperson.
“Additionally, the confederate battle flag was also raised on a flag pole outside of the Regimental Headquarters,” Ambelang told Army Times in email.
The caper occurred sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning, Ambelang said.
When regiment officials arrived to begin the duty day, they “identified” the Confederate flag and “it was removed immediately.”
Ambelang described the theft as “larceny of government property,” and encouraged potential witnesses to “contact the Department of Emergency Services on Rose Barracks at +49 9662833397.″
“This criminal behavior does not align with the Army’s values,” Ambelang noted. “It is also a violation of the Department of Defense policy [on display of the Confederate flag].”
In addition to the potential criminal charges and flag policy violations, the incident may run afoul of the Defense Department’s extremism policies.
In Germany, the Confederate battle flag has cropped up as a symbol of the country’s political far right over the years, including at anti-COVID lockdown protests in Dresden in 2020.
A Columbus State University professor described it as a “stand-in for the Nazi swastika” for those groups, who seek alternative imagery due to a nationwide ban on displaying Nazi-era symbols.
Perhaps because of that added local significance, 2nd Cavalry Regiment leaders took the incident seriously. The command held full formations after the flag was discovered.
“Commanders at all echelons across 2CR engaged their Soldiers at a morning formation on the seriousness of the incident,” Ambelang confirmed.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.