Army moves to oust 2nd lieutenant over anti-Semitic post on TikTok
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 12, 2021
The Army plans to remove a second lieutenant at Fort Stewart, Ga., from the service over his anti-Semitic social media post last year that went viral and resulted in his suspension from leadership roles, a service spokesman said Monday.
Army Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, recommended 2nd Lt. Nathan Freihofer for separation after an investigation into his TikTok post on Aug. 28 about Jewish people killed in the Holocaust, said Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for the XVIII Airborne Corps. In Freihofer’s post to some 3 million followers, he said those who were offended by the comment should “get the f— out, because it’s a joke.”
The Army launched a probe into the post, which was removed from TikTok, and stripped Freihofer of leadership roles within the 3rd Infantry Division, where he is a field artillery officer. In a statement on Sept. 1, Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, the commander of the 3rd ID, called the junior officer’s remarks “vile.”
Kurilla found “Freihofer’s anti-Semitic statement on TikTok inconsistent with the values of Army service and inappropriate for anyone in a position of leadership over American soldiers,” Buccino said in a statement issued Monday. “As a result, last month, the Corps commander initiated the process of removing Freihofer from the Army.”
During the probe, Kurilla spoke with others in Freihofer’s chain of command, reviewed his military service and his TikTok statement, Buccino said.
Freihofer has two weeks to present Kurilla with a final argument defending himself before he can be removed from uniform, Buccino said. Freihofer did not immediately respond Monday to an email seeking comment.
Freihofer has remained a prolific social media user, posting thousands of photos and videos – often in uniform – to TikTok and Instagram.
Since Freihofer’s anti-Semitic post went viral, he has amassed some 800,000 more fans on TikTok, a Chinese-owned app for sharing short videos. Freihofer’s account briefly disappeared from the platform, but he has continue to post almost daily. A video that he shared Sunday shows him briefly in his Army uniform.