Nazi re-enactors 'marching in unison wearing SS uniform' chased from 1940s festival

20 September 2023, 08:58 | Updated: 20 September 2023, 15:42

The Eastern Front Living History Group
The Eastern Front Living History Group. Picture: Handout

By Kit Heren

A row broke out at a 1940s re-enactment festival when an angry crowd confronted a group dressed up as Nazi soldiers.

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The altercation took place at an annual event in the Norfolk town of Sheringham on Saturday.

About ten of them were there dressed as Nazi soldiers from World War Two - including some with SS insignia on their collars - as part of a group that call themselves the Eastern Front Living History Group.

A crowd of festival-goers began shouting at the men, who had to leave the area escorted by police. Officers said that they were investigating a report of an assault.

One witness said: "It was a lovely family atmosphere and very friendly, when suddenly from nowhere there were 10 to 15 men dressed in authentic SS uniform, literally marching in unison.

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The Eastern Front Living History Group were confronted
The Eastern Front Living History Group were confronted. Picture: Handout

"It was deeply offensive. These men were not milling about and blending in among people. They were marching and making a demonstration. It was frightening.

He added: "My father was from a Jewish family who lost his parents and brothers and sisters in death camps. He was fortunate to escape with my uncle via Kindertransport, so having to see this with my son was mortally offensive and a disgraceful act."

Responding to the news, historian Mike Walters said on Twitter: "People who dress like comedy SS clowns from 'Allo 'Allo teach us nothing, absolutely nothing, about the Second World War.

"They're just flabby Nazi wannabes, who deserve the utmost ridicule".

The Eastern Front Living History Group defended themselves, saying they'd "never had a problem" over "four or five years" attending the festival.

. Picture: Handout

A spokesperson said: "We represent the western European nations that fought against Stalin and communism during World War II. We were wearing Waffen SS infantry uniforms displaying national shields and insignia of the countries portrayed. Not one member of the group portrayed a German.

"The uniforms were supplied by Germany, as were the weapons, to the foreign volunteers from 1941 to 1945. They’re as close to authentic as you can get.

“As a group we’ve been attending the Sheringham 1940s weekend for four or five years running and never had any problems before.”

They added: “We were walking down Sheringham high street and people were stopping us, shaking our hands and wanting to take photos. It was a brilliant vibe. There was no one upset or offended at all. It was good-natured fun, as it should be.

“As a group we do not tolerate any politics or any form of religious persecution. We simply won’t have it. That behaviour disgusts us and tarnishes what we do. We were not asked to leave. We were leaving anyway to go back to our campsite. We felt it was the right thing to do."

Festival organisers said German uniforms were allowed, as long as the people wearing them do not promote the Nazis. They said the incident was a misunderstanding and the group's aim was to "commemorate the German people".

A spokesman for Norfolk police said: “A police officer on patrol in Sheringham came across a confrontation in the High Street on Saturday [16 September] at about 5.30pm, involving a man and a group of people who had been attending an event. The officer intervened and quickly resolved the incident.

"One man reported being assaulted and this is being investigated further. No one was injured."

Karen Pollock, chief executive of Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "It is shocking and offensive to see in 2023 people dressed as Nazis and members of the SS – the very people responsible for the horrific ill-treatment and murder of 6 million Jewish men, women and children during the Holocaust.

"These people should not be glorified – and it sounds like the majority in attendance agree."