A board member at a Pennsylvania college resigned this week after a photo of the directory showing him and others dressed as Nazis at a party in 1980.
Bob Garthwait, a graduate of Gettysburg College in 1982, has made significant donations to the school over the years, the Harrisburg FOX 43 report said.
The picture shows Garthwait holding a plastic cup and wearing a military style uniform, with a swastika headband clearly visible on his left arm. He stands beside four other students dressed in the same way, although no swastikas are visible on their outfit.
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The photo was discovered last week by Cameron Sauers, a history specialist doing research in the college's archives, the student newspaper Gettysburgian reported. According to the Associated Press, Hannah Labovitz, another major student in history, determined Garthwait 's identity.
Labovitz told AP that the resignation of Garthwait's board of directors showed he understood "how bad the situation is."
"It was not fair to him, it was the school that allowed it to be in the directory and there were no complaints when it was allowed to be published," Labovitz said Tuesday.
In a statement, Garthwait said that the photo had been taken at a "Hogan Heroes" themed fraternity party, while he was a sophomore at school. , reported FOX 43. There is reference to a series of 1960s and 1970s television comedies that portrayed clever Allied prisoners of war that thwarted Nazi soldiers.
"I understand how disturbing this picture is for members of the Gettysburg College community, and especially for those who are Jewish," Garthwait wrote in his statement.
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"I understand how disturbing this picture is for members of the Gettysburg College community, and especially for those who are Jewish."
"In the second year of 1980, I was not fully aware of the meaning of these symbols. Although this is not an excuse, I am deeply embarrassed and regret to participate in this event where Nazi symbols were used. As a former student, one of my great pleasures has been contributing to the creation of the Garthwait Leadership Center, which focuses on the values of integrity, respect and respect. # 39; inclusiveness.
"My sincerest hope is that our current students learn from my bad judgment [sic] 38 years ago and be more thoughtful than me about the impact of their actions on others. I offer my sincere apologies to the entire community of Gettysburg College and humbly ask for your forgiveness. "
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Gettysburg College Chair Janet Morgan Riggs issued a separate statement:
"Bob made the decision to withdraw from the board of directors. He obviously regrets having participated in this event and the wrongs he caused to our community, which he cares so much about, "wrote Riggs.
"Discussions will continue with our board of directors about this situation. I hope that all members of the college community will learn from this – that it will inspire compassion for one another and that they will give us the same determination to create a climate in which everyone will feel welcome. "
Gettysburg College is a four-year private liberal arts college with approximately 2,400 students located near the Gettysburg Battlefield.
The Associated Press has contributed to this story.