Re-enacting good or bad?

Discussion in 'General' started by Owen, Jul 10, 2006.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    What are your views on re-enacting WW2?What do currently serving members of the Armed Forces think of grown men and women playing soldiers?What do our Veterans think of people trying to re-create their War?I feel if it is conducted correctly with a high attention to detail and accuracy then I'm all for it.The bit that does get to me is the old-chesnut of the Waffen SS re-enactors.I do feel dubious about that. Especially when I was told, by Von Poop, that young children dress up as Hitler Youth at some Military Shows. Several points here to create some discussion.
    Sorry about the layout of my text as I'm here thru a proxy and my posts won't layout correctly.I know this topic is running on GWF and it is creating quite a stir.
  2. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    Like you say Owen, so long as it is done properly with attention to detail, then I have no problem with it. And as to the Waffen SS and Hitler Youth reenactors, again no problem so long as they are there to educate people. If they are there purely to wear the uniform and parade around like eejits, then they should be shot.
    As to what the veterans think of it, I seem to recall seeing them crowded round the reenactors playing with the original equipment and chatting quite happily and reminiscing.
    All for reenactors in general, and nobody can drink harder than the Sealed Knot either.
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    While I've never re-enacted a 'Modern' period I've taken part in reenactments and 'living histories' since I was 15, seen many superb sights, seen many awful sights.
    The Deutsche Jugend were not one of the Awful sights. They belonged to a group that presented a frankly superb depiction of Children being kitted out with greatcoats and panzerfausts and sent off to the war. Absolutely chilling to see in living colour what such a scene could have looked like with an opel blitz, mounds of supplies and a bored looking trooper sat smoking in his sidecar in the background. It was an excellent illustration of one of war's grimmer aspects. Couldn't help whistling the theme from Cross of Iron every time I spotted them though.
    The Biggest problem with the look of many WW2 groups is the chubbiness, age and an unwillingness to run (in case any precious gear is lost) among the participants. The group with the DJ kids seems to avoid a lot of this trouble by having fitness and training sessions in an attempt to improve their presentations, others seem to be getting better and better at this as the years go by... trouble is it tends to be the older gents that can afford the vehicles and to be honest I wouldn't be too happy letting someone drive my halftrack just 'cos they looked right.
    The 20th century reenactors I know get a generally positive response from the Veterans, one old chap at Beltring had grabbed a very convincing Skinny German re-enactor and was leading him round the site using his helmet to collect money for Veterans charities
    "Just using this lad and his 'Guzunda' (Helmet) as I feel he should help out after all the trouble he caused us"
    It was very funny and the Helmet was full to the brim after a few hours, It was a marvellous example of not forgetting a sense of humour in regards to reenactors. When the Reenactors and their detractors start taking it too seriously then both sides start to look a little foolish. It's basically as my mother says "silly men [and women]in a field", mostly harmless.
    The reenactors are also dead keen to chat to kids, let 'em try on gear and hold equipment and I can only see that as positive if we want to keep the memory of the war and an interest in history alive.

    As for the sealed knot being hard drinkers. HAH! bunch of amateur lightweights. Couldn't drink their way out of a paper bag. All mouth and rubbish trousers....
  4. 52nd Airborne

    52nd Airborne Green Jacket Brat

    so long as it is done properly with attention to detail, then I have no problem with it. And as to the Waffen SS and Hitler Youth reenactors, again no problem so long as they are there to educate people.

    As to what the veterans think of it, I seem to recall seeing them crowded round the reenactors playing with the original equipment and chatting quite happily and reminiscing.

    I am in full agreement! Not that I partake in such activities.

    If anything the veterans point out to the re-enactors where they are going wrong (ie: uniforms & weapons) and generally offer advice to make sure the re-enactors get it right. This information was given to me by someone I met on a battlefield tour, who does take part in these weekends.
  5. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    I think that it's generally a good thing. I think that there are many re-enactors (or living historians) who study their period & its costumes, equipment & customs very closely. These people go to a lot of time, trouble & expense to get everything right & add a lot to our knowledge of their period. I like to see such people 'in action'. They also help to make TV dramas & documentaries more accurate. There are also some who are just indulging in fantasies & often have glaring inaccuracies in their turnout. As frequently happens, the latter group give everybody a bad name. I think it's inevitable that the more 'glamorous' units such as the Airborne will attract more re-enactors than others. I do have qualms over the depiction of the SS & wonder why people are attracted to them rather than say the Afrika Korps or Fallschirmjagers instead.
  6. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    Have to agree with the general comment that if it is presented right and true to the facts then re-enactments serve a valid purpose. There are always going to be the Walter Mitty element and there will be also those who will slag off any contribution re-enactors make regardless of authenticity or sincerity being true to the part.

    One point and it justifies re-enactors is the education part. History can be come dry and bland to the senses. Live re-enactment if true to the facts fill a place and bring the book/ events to life.

    As far as SS re-enactors are concerned, it is dependant on the viewer's perspective and the mentality before the event. If it is authentic and educational I can't see what is wrong with portraying the role. A lot of re-enactors have been commented as being living historians. They do it to educate as well as learn more about the history.

    I can understand those who are against it on grounds of perhaps glamourizing the SS, or upsetting the sensitivity of the victims of the SS of various nationalities, but there is also an element who don't allow any portrayal on grounds of political correctness and will try to stifle any interest. This is wrong.

    There are the unsavoury elements who are attracted to this for the very reason that others despise the SS - fact. But there are plenty who have an interest in the history of the SS and it's tactics. It's doesn't make them idolators or encourage them to go out and copy them or emulate them.

    History has happened don't deny it is fact. These enactors who portray the SS have an interest and in re-enacting educate people. They are there to educate and at the same time enjoy themselves. After all it is a hobby, anyone follow a hobby they don't enjoy doing? Detractors would say they are fantasising.

    These and others should be taken in the context in which they do their displays, their not there to promote an ideology no more than a Victorian display would want me to live in Victorian England.

    The SS had a reputation as an elite fighting force not withstanding the atrocities committed by some in their ranks. Their training and ideology might be deemed brutal. Re-enactors who portray SS fighting troops are sensitive to these issues and not out to glamourise this and are appreciative of the emotions and effects that the uniform creates in some people. They're not modern day brown shirts riding roughshod over people's sensitivities

    One should be given the facts from all perspectives and allowed to make one's own informed decision, not have it made for them. Denying people the right to hear or see all sides will only lead to blinkered opinions which are prevalent today. My way or the wrong way ,, seems to be the way with these people.

    Some people see the SS uniform and atrocities and death camps and brutality etc. The SS enactors are showing tactics and the way they fought against their enemy. They don't go home and live by the ideology, they can be taken as actors. Some re-enactors are drawn to the more prominent well known units airborne, tanks - human nature.

    The re-enactors I have spoke to come across as war buffs who are out to enjoy themselves as well as a healthy interest. Some also forget that these people often put on performance in bad weather and fund their own equipment.
    -tmm- likes this.
  7. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    I have no problem with re-enactors, if it helps to prolong the names of regiments that are no longer in existence, so much the better.
  8. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    Can't fault that. Anything that keeps the sacrifice alive ,that these men and women gave can't be a bad thing.
  9. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    As for the sealed knot being hard drinkers. HAH! bunch of amateur lightweights. Couldn't drink their way out of a paper bag. All mouth and rubbish trousers....
    Funny, the ones i dealt with over an entire weekend didn't sleep for 48 hours, were constantly well lubricated after drinking two towns dry of every scrap of alcohol, even the wierd sticky drinks noone else will touch, then went on a pub crawl to cheer up their wounded fellow who had ripped every muscle and tendon in his neck on the saturday after gettign whacked onthe helmet with a 12foot ash pike and was in a full collar. he was on strong medication but still took part in the scrap in Congleton on the saturday night where Sealed Knot (still in full costume) took on the local nutters. Policemen looked at swords and dirks and told them to get on with it, got into car and drove away.
    They even drank their own beer tent dry.
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Like I said.
  11. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    I don't mind a few re-enactors as long as it's done with realisum at the fore-front.

    There are a few things that severly wind me up though. So if I could beg your indulgence for a while and read my list. You can agree or disagree, I don't particularly care and if as they say "the cap fits", don't expect an appology from me.

    1. As has been pointed out, re-enacting is supposed to be a form of 'living history' so accuracy is more important than the re-enactor.

    2. When at a veterans event, remember that you are re-enactors. The veterans have had to do it for real and it is down right disrespectful to treat the event as your own over theirs. I've seen re-enactors pushing veterans off to one side when a camera came out. Don't do it! :eek:

    3. Re-enactors are supposed to show GI Joe, Tommy Atkins or Hans Mustermann. You know, the average guy doing his bit for his country during the war. Why does everyone have to be officers, senior ranks or from airbourne, commando or special forces units? They were the minority during the war and if re-enactors are supposed to be representitive, that should indeed be the case.

    4. No disrespect to some of the re-enactors, but most men during the war were under fed and very well trained. If you are supposed to be representing, for example, a captain in the British Parachute Regiment, looking like a 4 foot beachball in a Dennison Smock, isn't actually all that accurate is it? I didn't even know they made 38 pattern belts that long! You may get away with representing a private in the ACC, but only just, and I'm sure most of them would have been slimmer. I know it doesn't have the same pulling power as airborne, but again try and show some respect to the troops you are actually representing. The same goes with age.

    I understand that for some re-enactors it's their hobby and I don't mind if they get dressed up and run around the woods until they are ready to drop. As soon as they decide to turn up in front of the public they are representing the uniforms and men that they dress as, and that goes for all nationalities from all ages. Need I say more.
  12. spotter

    spotter Senior Member

    I did the sealed knot thing in the mid 80s and to be honest i felt a prat dressed up in a blouse and half mast trousers ,i did one season which basicaly consisted of getting drunk putting on a display getting cracked ribs when the pike push collapsed then back to some field to get drunk and do the same again the next day.Nowadays i dont like re-enactment scenarios thats my own personal choice and views, but many people enjoy taking part and watching these events ,so if its not harming or insulting anyone good luck to them
  13. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    Like I said.
    I wouldn't have called Dodgy Arthur a 'lightweight'.
  14. ourbill

    ourbill Senior Member

    Lichfield has suffered under the rule of the Sealed Knot many times.
    I was I on the point of asking to join when I found out they are Royalists bah tut tut you'll never get me with them sunny jim. Tell me I'm wrong and I might ask to join.

    Why shouldn't people dress up as their hero, I haven't seen many girlies dressing up as theirs, it's a man thing I suppose and so should be band forth with!

    I've always wanted to dress up as Tony Blair he is my all time hero since Magie. I jest, I couldn't afford the suit or the dress anyway.
  15. Cpl Rootes

    Cpl Rootes Senior Member

    i think re-enacting is great. Sure some people (e.g Chavs) might make fun of them, but they are generally idiots who will end up on the street and who don't care about what people went throught so that they could say that sort of stuff. If it is done with attension to detail then it is fine.

    I particually like groups that portray little-known regiments/corps. Everyone always says "SAS this" and "Paratrooper that", and i'm not saying that they were not important people in winning the war - far from it - but i think that people forget that with out 13 Troop Royal Ordinace corp (for example) then those SAS people wouldn't have servicable weapons, wouldn't have got to Africa etc.

    Here endeth the rant
  16. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    i think re-enacting is great. Sure some people (e.g Chavs) might make fun of them,
    I think you'll find the majority of people making fun of reenactors will be... other reenactors.;)

    On strange groups; Once spent the weekend alongside about 20 chaps from the Netherlands reenacting ww2 Dutch Military bicycle policemen. Nice geezers, barely a word of English, fed them sausages all weekend.
    However nothing has yet beaten the bloke with a full-size mock-up of a crashed bf109 'standing guard' all weekend in a home guard uniform...
  17. Wren_Foreman

    Wren_Foreman Junior Member

    Our group reenacts WWII Royal Navy (mostly because all of our family members have served at some point) but also because we are happy to educate people on it. Our attention to detail and authenticity is extremely high!

    Since starting reenacting I've had many vets come up to me and give lots of praise - saying its wonderful to see someone representing them, also how spot on our impressions and uniforms are! I've never had a bad comment yet!

    And can I just note.. our group is particular on rank, we only have one officer as we think its down righ stupid to have a group full of them, and its certainly not accurate.

    And of course, we do it also for the enjoyment, there are those of us that like a 40's atmosphere, have an interest in the fashion etc..

  18. thunderbolt47

    thunderbolt47 Junior Member

    Well I am both a WWII and American Civil War reenactor. I have met some officers in my units and others that take this so seriously that if someone is caught with something farby (reenactor term for "not period") they can be removed from that battle, or worse removed from that unit (generally that will only happen if it becomes a repeated offence). While Civil War reenacting I have see many ludicrious things (not in my unit though, we have strick commanders). Most often its someone wearing tennis shoes instead of Brogans. The worst I have seen is the combo of tennis shoes, blue jeans and a shirt which could be close to period! Also in Civil War reenacting you may occassionaly see women in the ranks. Now I have nothing aginst women at all, infact if she is pretty damn sexy she can stay in my tent :D. However there were no women in the ranks during the American Civil War.....except one which was ugly enough to pull off a man pretty well. Also on a side note she was awarded the Medal of Honor by Jimmy Carter, but thats another history. In my WWII group I had to shave off my gotee. If I didn't it would be out of uniform and I would not be able to join. Plus I can only carry a Garand and I am not allowed to bring out a Carbine on the field. I can not to anyone why, but I am in an Armored Division, so it my pretain to the fact that thats what the Armored Divisions carried but I don't know. Now I cancarry a Thompson or a BAR, but the Garand is easier to find and is a bit cheaper than the others. So, really it depends who you join up with. Some units may suck, others might be really good.
  19. TomcatPC

    TomcatPC Member

    My Dad is a WWII Veteran and he has no problem at all with WWII Reenacting. He actually takes an interest in me reenacting.

    Another thing that I enjoy about reenacting is that there are a lot of us younger Veterans that are involved. I think that has been a big part of what I enjoy about reenacting.
  20. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Nothing can be wrong here :)

    There are many more opportunities for women in military roles in the 1940's. I have several different impressions that I do for this time period. Shown here is my flight or duty uniform for a Womens Airforce Service Pilot or WASP. These ladies really did a great deal to help the war effort in a number of capacities, mostly on the home front. Until I met my husband I had never experienced living history in this era. I was missing something. These gals deserve all the honor due them. The plane here is a P-51 Mustang. Quite a hot little number! The WASP's ferried many of these State side though this one is painted as it would be for a fighter pilot in the European theater. This photo was taken in Minnisota at Planes of Fame. Additionaly, I portray a Russian sniper (yes - they used women in battle), a French partisan (either way I get to shoot Germans), WAC, and an Army Nurse.


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