Bury tells Nazis in uniform: we don't want you here
Some of those who chose to wear Nazi uniforms at last year's Bury World War Two re-enactment
Police say they will not be taking action against Nazi impersonators who flaunt swastika flags or dress as Nazi war criminals at a WW2 re-enactment event in Bury next bank holiday weekend.
Bury's Chief Superintendent Jon Rush said: "We will not be overzealous when it comes to the wearing or displaying of Nazi symbols or uniforms as this is basically an historical recreation of the World War Two period.
"That said, we will not tolerate anyone who is found to be doing anything to cause deliberate harassment or distress or with a view to inciting hatred, regardless of what they may or may not be wearing. However, our past experience at this event has demonstrated that this has never been the case."
The police response follows a barrage of complaints from Manchester's Jewish community over last year's annual 1940s war weekend event run by the East Lancashire Railway, whose policy bans participants wearing Nazi dress. But some of its 8,000 visitors saw 20 men dressed in Nazi uniforms, one man as Herman Goering, while a period jeep was draped in a red swastika flag. Complaints have prompted the ELR to print a large notice on the first page of this year's event programme, warning Nazi impersonators that they will be asked to leave if they turn up in uniform.
But Manchester Jewish Representative Council president Lucille Cohen said: "I'm not sure the police appreciate how badly people are affected by this." Mrs Cohen has written to Bury Council, which funds the railway, to urge its leader Mike Connolly to ensure the "outrage and hurt" caused last year would not be repeated.
Mr Connolly said the council had already written to the ELR urging them "to be proactive, to enforce and publicise their policy." He said he would also speak to Chief Superintendent Rush to ensure police were prepared to take action if necessary.
"What's occurred is absolutely appalling behaviour which can't be condoned, and is terribly offensive," he added.
ELR's Andy Coward said his organisation hoped to publish its Nazi ban on its website.
"There is no need for people to turn up in German officer outfits and leather trenchcoats. We don't want them at the event, which we like to think is fun and educational. It's a shame it gets overshadowed by this issue every year," he added.
Councillor Michelle Wiseman, who has campaigned over the issue for a number of years said: "I think the ELR are finally recognising our complaint."