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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

HRW's Israel investigator a Nazi-obsessed collector?

Omri Ceren reports on the curious case of Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch's Israel investigator who seems to have a fettish for Nazi memorabilia.

There are two Marc Garlascos on the Internet. One is a top human rights investigator who, having joined Human Rights Watch after several years with the Pentagon, has become known for his shrill attacks on Israel. The other is a Marc Garlasco who's obsessed with the color and pageantry of Nazism, has published a detailed 430 page book on Nazi war paraphernalia, and participates in forums for Nazi souvenir collectors.

Both Marc Garlascos were born on September 4, 1970. Both have Ernst as their middle name. Both live in New York, NY. Both have a maternal grandfather who fought for the Nazis. I've put links and screenshots on all this after the jump, and you can click through for full-sized versions. It's hard to escape the conclusion that both Marc Garlascos are the same person.

Bloggers and activists concerned about Israel have been baffled and frustrated by the first Garlasco almost since he joined HRW. On his public photography site he posts gratuitous Palestinian and Lebanese death porn in between galleries of cute Western-looking kids playing soccer (no link - keeping his kids out of it). He provides a seemingly never-ending stream of interviews to all kinds of outlets, where he spins tales about ostensible Israeli atrocities. The only problem is that many of these tales - per Soccer Dad and IsraPundit and Elder of Ziyon and NGO Monitor and CAMERA and LGF - are biased and inaccurate. That doesn't stop Garlasco from putting them into the kind of HRW reports that make their way into international anti-Israel condemnations and academic anti-Israel dissertations.

Then there's the second Marc Garlasco, who I caught wind of from Elder of Ziyon. Elder had just finished tearing apart another one of HRW Garlasco's anti-Israel reports when he found the Amazon profile of collector Garlasco. This Garlasco's Amazon book reviews show a nearly obsessive knowledge of Nazi-era Luftwaffe Flak and Army Flak. A little more searching revealed that he's written a gigantic book on the subject that retails for over $100. He regularly participates in forums about Nazi medals under the handle Flak 88, where he posts galleries of his prizes and admires what others have managed to collect. On those forums he uses the email marc@garlasco.com, which points to a family genealogy site he set up in 2002.

If both Garlascos are the same, Human Rights Watch almost certainly knows about his creepy hobby. It took me less than an hour on Google to confirm Elder's hunch to my satisfaction, and not much longer to lock the whole thing down. There's even an Amazon widget displaying Garlasco's book at the bottom of his Huffington Post article, though that may be automatically generated. The book might even be listed on his CV because, after all, none of this is illegal. Just potentially unseemly.

The collector Marc Garlasco certainly doesn't keep his day job secret from his fellow memorabilia collectors. There are at least two public references to his life as an HRW investigator on the forums. In one thread he posts dozens upon dozens of pictures from his collection at the end of 2007, which he describes as having been a "very lucky" year. A friend responds "Jeez Louise!! I had no idea HRW paid the big bucks!!" In another thread he comments on a badge and gushes "I would kill for that - WOW!" A friend responds "now now, HRW boy, don't go overboard!"

After the Saudis and Joe Stork, is anyone really surprised by this?

Does anyone really doubt where Garlasco's sympathies (probably) lie and why?

Read the whole thing and look at the images.


Two Nazi 'collector' sites have confirmed that it's the same Marc Garlasco.


Others on this story: Solomonia, Breath of the Beast, Camera, Volokh Report, Commentary, Elder of Ziyon,


At 4:46 PM, Blogger lol said...

You have to know that he is a NAZI.

Eighty-eight (The number in his user name) is used as code among Neo-Nazis to identify each other. H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, so 88 is taken to stand for HH which in turn means Heil Hitler

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I'm aware of that.

Omri has done a follow-up post in which he says that he hasn't found evidence that Garlasco is actually a Nazi.

At 11:14 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

He could just be a World II militaria collector. But when you compare it to his the reports he's issued on Israel, that is enough to raise legitimate questions. HRW appears to have no problems with what its employee does in his off-hours. There is room to assess whether his interest in Third Reich memorabilia colors his views about Israel and a lot of people are wondering who is the real Marc Garlasco.

At 2:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several blogs and others critical of Human Rights Watch have suggested that Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch’s longtime senior military advisor, is a Nazi sympathizer because he collects German (as well as American) military memorabilia. This accusation is demonstrably false and fits into a campaign to deflect attention from Human Rights Watch’s rigorous and detailed reporting on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Israeli government. Garlasco has co-authored several of our reports on violations of the laws of war, including in Afghanistan, Georgia, and Iraq, as well as by Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

Garlasco has never held or expressed Nazi or anti-Semitic views.

Garlasco’s grandfather was conscripted into the German armed forces during the Second World War, like virtually all young German men at the time, and served as a radar operator on an anti-aircraft battery. He never joined the Nazi Party, and later became a dedicated pacifist. Meanwhile, Garlasco’s great-uncle was an American B-17 crewman, who survived many attacks by German anti-aircraft gunners.

Garlasco own family’s experience on both sides of the Second World War has led him to collect military items related to both sides, including American 8th Air Force memorabilia and German Air Force medals and other objects (not from the Nazi Party or the SS, as falsely alleged). Many military historians, and others with an academic interest in the Second World War, including former and active-duty US service members, collect memorabilia from that era.

Garlasco is the author of a monograph on the history of German Air Force and Army anti-aircraft medals and a contributor to websites that promote serious historical research into the Second World War (and which forbid hate speech). In the foreword he writes of telling his daughters that “the war was horrible and cruel, that Germany lost and for that we should be thankful.”

To imply that Garlasco’s collection is evidence of Nazi sympathies is not only absurd but an attempt to deflect attention from his deeply felt efforts to uphold the laws of war and minimize civilian suffering in wartime. These falsehoods are an affront to Garlasco and thousands of other serious military historians.


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