A Republican congressional candidate in North Carolina first archived, then reinstated, photos on his Instagram account from a 2017 vacation to Adolf Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest retreat after a recent news article about them.
The post shows 25-year-old Madison Cawthorn and his brother grinning in front of the Nazi retreat where Hitler often vacationed in Germany.
“The vacation house of the Führer,” Cawthorn wrote in a caption for the post, addressing Hitler using the reverential term Nazis associated with their leader.
“Seeing the Eagles Nest has been on my bucket list for awhile, it did not disappoint,” he continued. He noted it was “strange to hear so many laughs and share such a good time with my brother” in the same place “a supreme evil shared laughs and good times with his compatriots.”
Cawthorn’s photos were first removed on Monday, the same day Jezebel published a story arguing that he is “following the playbook of other, more successful far-right Republicans in recent years, attempting to rebrand his extreme views … as squarely in the mainstream of the Republican Party.”
The candidate posted a string of tweets later Tuesday responding to the photos.
“When our soldiers were photographed at the Eagle’s Nest in 1945 they were clearly celebrating the Allies triumph over one of the greatest evils in human history,” he tweeted. “They weren’t celebrating evil; they were celebrating their victory over evil.”
“I don’t cower to the mob,” he continued. “The new Republican Party that I represent will fight back against liberal lies.”
Cawthorn told HuffPost that the Allied victory “was the history I had in mind” when visiting the Eagle’s Nest. “It was a surreal experience to be remembering their joy in a place where the Nazi regime had plotted unspeakable acts of evil,” he said.
According to Jezebel, however, the candidate has named his real estate company SPQR ― a term popular among white nationalist groups ― and has allegedly displayed Betsy Ross’ version of the American flag, which the Anti-Defamation League says has been appropriated by far-right militias “among other Revolutionary War-era symbols.”
A similar report released over the weekend includes many of the same details as Jezebel’s, including evidence of Cawthorn’s far-right vision. The report was published by AVL Watchdog, a nonprofit news organization covering the region of North Carolina that Cawthorn is hoping to represent in Congress.
The real estate investor won the GOP nomination for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District in June, defeating Lynda Bennett in the Republican primary runoff. Bennett had received endorsements from both President Donald Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows, who until earlier this year held the House seat.
Cawthorn ― who also supports Trump ― will face Democrat Moe Davis, a former military prosecutor, in November’s general election. Despite recent boundary changes resulting from litigation, the district still leans Republican.
Davis joined in on the tweets pointing to Cawthorn’s Instagram post, saying, “Hitler’s vacation retreat is not on my bucket list.”