Smile Hitler. The Nazis invade trainspotters’ day out

By Simon Rocker, May 27, 2009
Locals pose with the re-enactment group

Locals pose with the re-enactment group

Organisers of a Second World War re-enactment event have apologised after some participants breached its dress code and sported swastikas.

Men in German military uniforms were seen displaying the Nazi emblems at the East Lancashire Light Railway’s annual “wartime weekend” in Bury.

But Andy Coward, the railway’s general manager, said that such insignia were off-limits and people would have been asked to remove them if they had been spotted.

“We have a policy whereby we ask all re-enactors not to wear any insignia bearing the swastika or anything that may be deemed as offensive,” he said.

The souvenir brochure states that “the wearing of any Black SS, and any wartime insignia is not permissible”.

Mr Coward said: “If anybody is seen to be wearing it, we ask them to remove it and if they refuse, we ask them to leave.

“If people do get upset we can only apologise. There is certainly no attempt to glorify war or what the war was about. The aim is to give people a flavour of what life was back then, albeit in a sanitised 21st century kind of way.”

The weekend event, which attracted thousands of visitors, offered music and fashion from the period along with “battle re-enactments”.

The railway had faced the problem of Nazi insignia years ago, he said, “as did all heritage railways, where we allowed re-enactors portraying German troops to wear that stuff. But a lot of people said that wasn’t what they wanted to see, and like other railways, we took action to try and stamp it out.”

But Michelle Wiseman, a Jewish councillor in Bury, said that the ban did not go far enough. “You can have a wartime re-enactment without having German uniforms at all — they are unnecessary,” she said.

She said that although she has tried to ban the costumes, “at the end of the day, it’s an independent organisation.”

Barbara Goldstone, president of the Manchester Jewish Representative Council, described the wearing of swastikas as “abhorrent.”

Last updated: 3:51pm, May 28 2009