Visitors flout ban on wearing Nazi uniforms to WWII event
Visitors to a Second World War-themed event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Dambuster have turned out in Nazi uniforms despite a ban on the costumes.Organisers of the 1940s weekend in Haworth, West Yorkshire, faced complaints last year from a party of German tourists about the flaunting of regalia linked to the Holocaust.
This year, an attempt to prevent a repeat of the controversy, signs warning "No Nazi or SS Insignia or uniforms on these premises" were displayed on shops pubs and camp sites.
Businesses all over the town were given signs saying Nazi or SS uniforms "not welcome," in a bid to avoid "unnecessary offence".
Emma Cox, one of the organisers of the celebrations, said those involved were getting more stubborn about flaunting their regalia every year.
"This is a very controversial issue,” she said. “Lots of people who come to the weekend are re-enactors recreating military, civilian, and other features of the era.
"Then there are people who come as spectators who are mainly local people but some from further afield.
"Every year there are a few people who come in SS uniforms, which is nothing to do with the re-enactments.
"It is just about getting dressed up as SS people. Some people find this quite upsetting in what is meant to be a celebration of the Home Front spirit.”
"Apart from anything (else), there would not have been any SS in England at the time.”
Those who come dressed as SS had been getting “very uptight” about not being welcome, she added.
"They seem to be getting more determined to get dressed up in their SS uniforms and this is an open and public event so it is just not appropriate or practical to vet the thousands of people coming into the village,” she said.
"It is okay to come dressed as a German soldier. But everyone knows the SS was different. They were the people running the concentration camps.
"It's a problem because this is a public event which is supposed to be inclusive."
All proceeds raised from the weekend will be donated to the armed forces charity, the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Families Association.
Last year the event raised £25,000 for Help for Heroes.
Last week marked the 70th anniversary of the Dambuster raid over Germany.
The raid, carried out by 133 airmen in 19 Lancaster bombers, was an attempt to cripple a major part of the Nazi war economy by attacking three dams in Germany’s industrial heartland.