Cancellation of WWII Reenactment Because of Participants Wearing of German Uniforms

A WWII reenactment planned to take place in Yorkshire has been cancelled, due to the highly sensitive nature of the subject. Set to raise funding for the Help for Heroes project, it had been planned to include legitimate vehicles, weaponry, and uniforms, including those used by the Nazis during the war. Barnsley Council stepped in to cancel the event when many apparently complained that some of those involved in the WWII reenactment would have been dressed like Nazis.

The event, known as the “Goodnight Sweetheart” charity weekend, was to be run by the Northern World War II Association, which is known for its use of true-to-form clothing and equipment. The Elsecar Heritage Railway, who also would have stood to receive funding from the WWII reenactment, were surprised at the cancellation due to the Northern World War II Association’s credibility, as well as the fact that they are already known for their use of genuine articles when performing such events. Not only have they done similar events before, but in this case they planned the precise event they were asked to do.

The Association’s major defense point is that they would be portraying German soldiers fighting for the Nazis, but would not be portraying what they refer to as “extreme Nazi political units.” In other words, the WWII reenactment was not planned to include any members of the Gestapo, simply German soldiers fighting for their country, some of which happen to be part of the Nazi regime. The Council does not seem to be persuaded by this, however as the complaints they have received apparently date back to 2010.

According to the council, the inclusion of any Nazi soldiers or swastikas in the event was enough to push their decision. They claim that they do not mind the event itself, and would be fine with seeing a WWII reenactment, but they feel the need to take complaints from those whose family history was affected by the war into consideration. They are also citing safety as a concern, though they have been much more tight-lipped on that particular aspect of the cancellation, the Mail Online reports.

Barnsley has stated that the WWII reenactment will be rescheduled if the nature can be changed so as not to include any Nazi elements. They have also stated that they had no idea the event was for charitable causes. This has added pressure for them to talk with the Association about negotiating terms to continue with the WWII reenactment so that all involved can be happy with the results.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE