Reenactment: What About The Germans?

Discussion in 'The Barracks' started by angie999, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    According to The Times (19/2/05) an argument has broken out over WWII reenactment following a series of “wartime weekends” held at various steam railways around the country last summer.

    The argument concerns battle reenactments in which the “British” and “Americans” staged mock battles against the “Germans” and it is these “Germans” which have caused the problem, because they came equipped with realistic weapons and uniforms, including Waffen SS uniforms complete with insignia bearing swastikas.

    We in this house have been enthusiastic spectators at reenactments for several decades, covering everything from the Wars of the Roses through to 19th century. We have seen more English Civil War events than any other. But I personally have never seen a large scale WWII event.

    My husband had the chance to attend one of these steam railway events last summer in the Forest of Dean, but I was busy with something else and could not go. He says it was spectacular, the best of its kind he has ever seen. There was a large crowd there, spending their money and no doubt donating to the railway. The fairly large militaria fair there was also doing well.

    Apparently, when not “fighting” each other, all the various groups were very approachable and friendly.

    Now, it seems, a number of groups and individuals have objected to the German – and SS in particular I think – uniforms and insignia. The National Railway Museum in York has stepped in to get it stopped. Jewish organisations in particular seem to have taken exception.

    My opinion is that to some extent WWII battle reenactment is out of place in Britain, because no land actions were actually fought here and there is no obvious link to preserved steam railways. Yet I know from 1940s weekends I have attended (with no battles) that their popularity is growing and they do pull a crowd. Therefore, a viable way to raise money – and a whole lot of fun. I can see the appeal. And if the “British” and “Americans” are going to stage mock battles, they need some “Germans” to fight.

    So, I will be sad if these events no longer go ahead, particularly as, following what I heard about 2004 I was definitely planning to go in 2005.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I can see how this would create controversy and indeed its a tough one to call. I suppose it depends on what the re-enactment was about. For example a re-enactment of the Capturing of Pegasus Bridge for example would have no SS involvement but the closing of the Falaise Gap would.
    IMHO I would be wary of encouraging members to dress in SS garb as I feel that peoples sensitivities should be respected but there is a case for inclusion on purely historical grounds.
     
  3. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    I don't think they were recreating a particular action. For instance, there were groups representing both British and American airborne, which as we know never fought side by side.
     
  4. Paul Johnson

    Paul Johnson Member

    This makes my blood boil.

    How on earth can reenactment be offensive? Looks like another sad case of PC, to me. There have been reenactment groups throughout the UK for years who have simply tried to create a piece of living history, for others to watch and enjoy.

    Understandably, you cannot create the feel of a battle without all the participants, including the "baddies". There are a great deal of Wild West reenactors in this country, inclusive of Red Indians, but I dont see any issues being raised about the feelings of "ethnic americans".

    The first thing that German reeactors do is tell you that they are not interested in any neo-nazi politics. They dress as SS Units becuase they are seen to be the Elite of the German land forces in WW2. Just as, in the same way, other reenactors dress as members of the "British" Parachute Regiment or the "American" Ranger battalions.

    It's just people dressing up, enjoying themselves and trying to bring history alive. There are no summary executions at these events, no gassings and no hangings. You never find any political material nor the promotion of Nazi doctrine, what is the problem?

    If you really feel offended by reenactments, then dont go to the events where they are taking place.

    PAUL JOHNSON :ph34r:
     
  5. DirtyDick

    DirtyDick Senior Member

    Quite so.

    I find most re-enacting cringe-making (e.g. fat middle-aged men dressed up as Paras or Rangers and driving around Normandy in front of WW2 veterans - why do so few want to dress as truck drivers or clerks?), but support fully the right to do it and, when firmly based on evidence, it can be of historical benefit aside from pure entertainment value.

    Strangely enough, I could understand there being greater concern in areas that were under occupation to the presence of SS uniforms than in the UK, for reasons already stated, especially when the generations that experience it would be rather elderly and arguably some more prone to distress.

    I feel that some individuals and organisations have very jaundiced and prejudicial views - he wears an SS uniform so he must be a Right-wing thug; he pretends to be a soldier and has a rifle in his hands, he must be a closet psycho, etc. etc. - but I don't think they have any special privilege to call for an end to what is essentially harmless entertainment.

    Richard
     
  6. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    At the Open days at various miltary museums, many people add authenticity to their displays of German military equipment by dress in period costume.

    I see no harm with those people who have a keen interst in military history it is those who dress up in Nazi uniform because of their right wing politcs.

    I also object to things like the two stalls in the Barras which sell WW2 German uniforms and knives. one stall has a maucher 96k for sale. Mind you at one point the same stall had a bren gun, ppsh, lancaster smg, m1 carbine, SKS plus a prc 349 VHF radio for sale as well.

    That sort of stall may satisfy those fantasists who are extremly dangerous when they have withdrawn into their little world as a nazi stormtrooper.

    I can see why the jewish groups would want to protest that sort of person.
     
  7. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    Fundamentally I have no objection to re-enactment and actually appeared in an American Civil War re-enactment some years ago. Our local preserved railway stages a 1940's weekend every year and it raises much-needed revenue. My late father, a Burma veteran, enjoyed attending. A good time seems to be had by all, although the age and physical condition of many of the re-enactors masquerading as paras, US airmen etc does lend a slightly ludicrous edge to some of the proceedings. Most of them seemed perfectly decent people but I didn't warm to some including the SS characters. They didn't seem to be interested in the educational/historical aspect (unlike say the excellent Ermine Street Guard Roman group I have encountered at another event) but just liked strutting about in jackboots and living out their fantasies of being one of the Master Race. Historically accurate perhaps but distasteful nonetheless.
    The most interesting re-enactor I have seen at this event was the unobtrusive tall, pale and bearded young man in civilian clothes bearing a yellow Star of David.
     
  8. laufer

    laufer Senior Member

    I think the case of re-enactment is a part of some bigger problem of banning the Nazi legacy from Europe. As you probably know the EU is considering a 25 nation ban of explicit publicity of Nazi symbols. This proposal is fortified especially by the pleas of German Conservatives, Liberals, and Social Democrats within the EU parliament. But what about British liberal traditions? ;)
     
  9. Marco

    Marco Senior Member

    How on earth can reenactment be offensive? Looks like another sad case of PC, to me.

    People who suffered first-hand at the hands of the nazi's are still alive, so yes I can imagine someone having a problem with people walking around in SS uniforms. It isn't real history yet for some you know.

    Regards,

    Marco
     
  10. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by Marco@Feb 28 2005, 08:22 AM
    How on earth can reenactment be offensive? Looks like another sad case of PC, to me.

    People who suffered first-hand at the hands of the nazi's are still alive, so yes I can imagine someone having a problem with people walking around in SS uniforms. It isn't real history yet for some you know.

    Regards,

    Marco
    [post=31779]Quoted post[/post]

    I can understand that point of view but when it means that german Aircraft in the various aviation museums cannot carry the proper markings.
     
  11. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    I totally agree that museum exhibits should not be "unauthenticated" in any way.

    I see, by the way, that the EU proposals were thrown out last week, which I think was bound to happen. I think that the Price Edward episode, where he was subjected to a barrage of insults and scorn was probably much more effective than a ban anyway.

    Now as to reenactors, we need "Germans" to have battle reenactment, but we do not need people who play "master race" without discussing context. I think that if people want to play at Waffen SS they have an obligation to do this and take measured criticism from those who want to give it. I personally do not think that the Waffen SS were all just the "simple soldiers" the veterans like to suggest they were. For instance, there were quite a lot of individual transfers between the Waffen SS and more "sinister" units and as the Einsatzgruppen activity wound down, many of the SS and police units involved found themselves tranferred to Waffen SS formations, notably engaged in anti-partisan activities on the Eastern Front.
     
  12. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    If you're going to re-enact a WW2 battle, you need Germans, obviously. That means you need a panzergrenadier battalion, not an SS Einsatzkommando. I think the key is how the faux Boxheads portray themselves. If they're selling copies of Ernst Zundel's books and David Cole's tapes (two leading Holocaust deniers), they shouldn't be there. This does not mean we should have re-enactments at Auschwitz. I can think of few things more tasteless than doing "living history" at Auschwitz.
     
  13. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    I quite agree that we do "germans" at re-enactments as not using "SS" the problem arises where the Waffen SS were involved in batles especially those of Normandy.

    Also, the German tankie wore deathshead insignia the same as the SS. This always created the perception that it the SS who used all tanks and given the rise in the number of restored vehicles will mean more people walking about in german uniforms.


    Something of interst was a quote by bernard hepton the actor who the commandant of Colditz in the series.

    the uniform was designed to make people feel smart and when i put on my uniform I fel both smart and proud!

    hepton actually helped design the hydrulic system for the lancaster but not a lot of people know that! :lol: :lol:


    Here is a website of re-enactors

    85th regt
     
  14. Marco

    Marco Senior Member

    I can understand that point of view but when it means that german Aircraft in the various aviation museums cannot carry the proper markings.


    What has this got to do with it? A piece of equipment or uniform in a museum is something else then people willingly dressing up in SS uniforms. If your parents, brothers and sisters were murdered by the SS would you understand if you saw them standing around laughing and 'being' SSers while you came for a steam weekend? (see original topic-starter).

    Regards,

    Marco
     
  15. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by Marco@Mar 2 2005, 09:35 AM
    I can understand that point of view but when it means that german Aircraft in the various aviation museums cannot carry the proper markings.


    What has this got to do with it? A piece of equipment or uniform in a museum is something else then people willingly dressing up in SS uniforms. If your parents, brothers and sisters were murdered by the SS would you understand if you saw them standing around laughing and 'being' SSers while you came for a steam weekend? (see original topic-starter).

    Regards,

    Marco
    [post=31848]Quoted post[/post]

    the display of authentic German markings on wartime aircraft was banned because it may offend peoples sensibilities.
     
  16. Marco

    Marco Senior Member

    the display of authentic German markings on wartime aircraft was banned because it may offend peoples sensibilities.


    Where is this? Remember this is an international forum. I know it's the case in Germany, but not on Holland or the US.

    Regards,

    Marco
     
  17. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by Marco@Mar 3 2005, 10:31 AM
    the display of authentic German markings on wartime aircraft was banned because it may offend peoples sensibilities.


    Where is this? Remember this is an international forum. I know it's the case in Germany, but not on Holland or the US.

    Regards,

    Marco
    [post=31878]Quoted post[/post]

    Sorry its Britain.
     
  18. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Morse, are you saying some idiots in a museum in Britain did this?

    Name and shame please so that we can subject them to the ridicule they deserve!
     
  19. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    the RAF Museum, IWM and others
     
  20. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by morse1001@Mar 3 2005, 03:13 PM
    the RAF Museum, IWM and others
    [post=31892]Quoted post[/post]

    Oh boy, then the lunatics really are running the assylum if museum exhibits have to be defaced.
     

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