Army Recruiting Leader Awaits Judgment After Using Nazi Death Camp Motto in Memo

The entrance to the Auschwitz I memorial concentration camp site
The notorious "Work Makes One Free" ("Arbeit Macht Frei") inscription stands at the entrance to the Auschwitz I memorial concentration camp site on Feb. 15, 2019, in Oswiecim, Poland. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A U.S. Army Recruiting Command leader has been suspended for allegedly using the notorious phrase that hung over the entrance to a World War II Nazi death camp in a memo to encourage recruiters to sign up more recruits.

The "Truth of Army Recruiting" Twitter account recently posted a snapshot of the memo, which included the phrase "Arbeit Macht Frei [Work Will Set You Free]" and promised days off to recruiters for bringing new soldiers into the service.

In the memo, the company commander allegedly promised that "1 contract=No Saturday Work Days," and "2 contracts=1 Company Token for a day off."

"If you write 6 contracts or more ... you are a god and I make a shrine for you," the memo reads.

Task and Purpose and Newsweek first reported the suspension on Aug. 22.

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The memo came out as the Army has just a few weeks left to meet its recruiting goals for the fiscal year, a target it missed last year by about 6,500 soldiers.

The words "Arbeit Macht Frei" were originally displayed on top of the gate into Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp established in Poland in 1940. Also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, the large complex was made up of 40 subcamps where an estimated 1.1 million people died during WWII, according to historians.

"US Army Recruiting Command is aware of the memo sent out by a recruiting company commander in the Houston area. The commander has been suspended pending the outcome of our current investigation into the situation," according to a statement from the command.

"Army recruiting leaders will take appropriate action once the investigation is complete and all facts are known. When an individual enters into the military, they are held to high moral and ethical standards -- soldiers who choose not to live up to our values will be held accountable for their actions," it continued.

The Army launched a massive new recruiting strategy last October that targeted 22 major cities and put about 700 new recruiters on the streets.

In July, Army leaders said they were confident that the service would meet its recruiting goal of having 68,000 new soldiers under contract by Sept. 30.

In addition to more recruiters in more cities, the Army has also ramped up its presence on social media -- producing new videos and memes to reach the youth of Generation Z.

The Army is also moving its marketing operation to Chicago, the result of a shakeup that came about nine months after the Trump administration responded to an internal audit that found millions of dollars in ineffective marketing programs during fiscal 2016 by withholding [approximately] 50% of the Army Marketing and Research Group (later redesignated as the Office of the Chief Army Enterprise Marketing) budget in its latest defense spending bill.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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