What do posters feel about re-enactment societies?
Most of you are no doubt aware of these groups in your own countries and Iíve often wondered about them over the years.
Iíve got a very small collection of C20th militaria, mostly passed down through the family (souvenired German WWI items, French stuff etc) and have a general (and I hope simply healthy) interest in personal military equipment or Ďkití as the Brits sometimes call it.
But Iíve never had the slightest inclination to join a society and act out some military encounter, display the items I have at a militaria Ďfairí, or even swap info on Ďthe netí with others about what I have.
But I am interested in what motivates guys (and gals!) to join some of these societies whether or
not in some cases something a little worrying is going on.
Now I can understand people having some fun with a Medieval re-enactment club (Vikings, Saxons, archers, Knights, jousts, feasts Etc), an Ancient Civilizations club (Egyptians, Greeks Romans et al)
World War One Iím fine with. Always saw that conflict, at least on the Western Front, despite its attendant horror and carnage as basically A Ďcleaní war (well thatís a poor choice of words I suppose but you know what I mean!)
Some WWII re-enactment activity also seems like fairly harmless Ďfuní at least on the allied side. There are for example numerous associations portraying units from the 82nd Airborne.
Now I know re-enactors have been used in feature films, some documentaries and also appear at fairs, festivals etc. That I guess is providing a service and helps people understand and appreciate history.
But whatís with these guys depicting SS (!) or other Axis units of dubious distinction?
I recall a few months ago someone surreptitiously taped a gathering of some SS re-enactors in the UK. One of them is distinctly heard making some pretty damning comments about ĎPakisí or blacks along the lines of how heíd like to deal with Ďthoseí kind of people. In other words he said what youíd expect someone from the frigginí actual SS to say!Donít know what happened but I imagine recruitment to the re-enactment group did not go up.
Whoíd want to join something like that? Very strange.
Even someone choosing to depict confederates in an ACW Society makes me smile ruefully.
Anyway I promised myself Iíd keep this brief so over to you guys.
Cult that's good... But, and I'm really, really sorry I don't have a picture... I saw a Black guy in L A at a wargaming convention wearing an SS GrĀueppenfuehrer's uniform! Now that would take some explaining.....
I have a friend who used to reinact with the 2nd WSS which was ran by a Jewish Rabbi and had a LOT of Jewish members. When asked about it they replied that 1) They had the best uniforms and 2) (more importantly) it pissed off the NeoNazis to no end.
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But the pictures remind me of a worrying development in military history publishing.
A few months ago I noticed a newstand copy of Strategy & Tactics or The World At War magazine featured an article about some WWII East Front battle.
There were a couple of pitures of German infantry platoons and accompanying captions saying something like 'German infantry on the march in Poland late 1944' or some such.
Well even a cursary examination of the photos made it quite clear they were modern day re-enactors!
Bloody outrageous! What a sad development for the once proud S&T masthead. Hpe ACG never does anything like that!
I don't throw stones. I've been a wargamer for a long time, and among WWII wargamers many prefer fielding German troops simply because "they are the best" (an idea often self-reinforced, because some of the rule writers also follow that school of thought). And some even prefer the Waffen-SS among the Germans, because they are "first-class soldiers" and again have the best equipment.
OK, that's at least in part based on inaccurate and biased information, but I can live with it (and, ideally, set up an Arracourt battle in which Shermans and TDs destroy Panthers wholesale).
What I won't stand is when it is glaring obvious that the SS-fond wargamer is fond of them for political reasons. The same would go for a reenactor. I used to know - through online sources only! - about an Italian guy who reenacted in RSI uniform... and guess what, his views were neo-Fascist.
If wargaming and reenacting (and modeling, and collecting etc.) are but an excuse to promote that kind of ideas, I won't stomach that. But until evidence of this is apparent, I won't object to war-related hobbies, even if they have to do with that kind of military units.
After all, WWII history is but a hobby for me, and I happen to know more things about the Waffen-SS than the average man in the street. This doesn't make me a SS fan.
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I think reenacting what was effectively slaughter in a load of mud is to me a bit weird. I think its a uniform mostly though to be honest, even more so with the Napoleon or the Nazi stuff. Having spoken to a number of people over their years their actual understanding of what really happened and the debauched evil of it isn't entirely believed by them I think...
I think the SS thing is weird especially when people say its non political. Its a bit like wearing a KKK outfit for fun and saying its Ok I'm not racist. Perhaps they're not but....
A lot of reenactors you meet at Living History events seem harmless enough, good blokes, eager to share their knowledge on history. They make history come alive, I think they're doing a good job and their hobby is doing no harm- in fact I wish they'd been more about when I was younger.
Some however seem a bit more sinister, namely some (but not all) of the SS units re enactors.
I was talking to a chap I know who does historical shooting and sells ethnic weaponry, and we ended up talking about re-enactors, he went along once to one, I think it was the English Civil War which this group were doing. Asked him what it was like he just said, wide-eyed 'mad men, absolutely mad'. I think it coloured his view of them for then after.
I don't think I could be bothered to role out of bed at 5:00 and spend the weekend as a viking, but I don't begrudge others for doing it.
I met some once at the KM War and Peace Show (actually I met a lot) who were re-enacting the 1990s Balkans conflict - they had, and I **** you not, 80's shell suits and Aks. That was it, I mean if you're going to do re-enactment, that's probably the cheapest way to start.
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Imo, If someone wishes to pose in an accurate rendition of a soldier (or follower) of a certain period, then thats OK by me but they should 'look' the part, not overweight, wrong sex or wrong race. The other thing they should do is stop the battlefield reenactments. Seeing a bunch of Napoleonic wannabies acting like fools on the very site of a 50,000 casualty battlesite is F***ing galling. How many WWI reenactors do you see advancing over the pock-marked fields of Verdun? And if someone posts pictures of people doing that very thing, then I say Give em a spade and 48 hours rations each, take them to Salisbury plain impact area that's located in the south of England, tell them to dig deep then get the a couple of Royal Artillery regiments of 105mm light guns to send over a barrage that will last the whole 48 hours.