A retired farmer who says he served in a branch of a German paramilitary unit in World War II is turning some of his property into a memorial to Adolf Hitler.
Ted Junker, 87, plans a grand opening June 25 and says his goal is to clear up what he says are inaccuracies about the war and Hitler’s role in it.
“I like the U.S.,” he said. “I can’t understand why people don’t know the truth. This is for understanding, not hate.”
Junker said the memorial is in a concrete structure in the side of a hill and has a German flag and other items for display.
Kathy Heilbronner, assistant director of the Milwaukee Jewish Council for Community Relations, described Junker as a classic Holocaust denier. She said he chooses to ignore the ample evidence of the Holocaust.
Junker said he volunteered to join the German Waffen-SS in 1940. The Waffen-SS was the fighting branch of the Nazi party’s dreaded paramilitary unit, the Schutzstaffel. Commonly known as the SS, the unit acted as a special police force and was involved in some of the worst crimes committed in territory under Nazi control during World War II.
Better equipped than regular army troops, the Waffen-SS was used notably to secure Nazi-occupied areas and to combat partisans or other opposition forces. They also fought on the front lines next to regular army troops.
Residents: 'We're afraid'
In 1955, Junker said he came to the United States. He said he worked as a janitor in Chicago and bought 120 acres in Walworth County 43 years ago to farm.
Sugar Creek Town Chairman Loren Waite said Junker told local officials he was going to build a tractor shed, not a Hitler memorial, and he hasn’t applied for the conditional-use permit he would need for the venture.
“As long as it was just on his back 40, that was one thing, but now that he’s gone public, we’re afraid of what’s going to happen here,” Waite said.