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Thursday 23 November 2017

Outrage over Nazi fancy dress as Jewish couple 'asked to play Holocaust victims'

GUESTS at a festival celebrating the Jubilee caused outrage by dressing up as senior Nazis while a Jewish couple claimed they were asked to pose as Holocaust victims.

Mr Paul, 65, a retired dental surgery designer, said: “It was an innocent question but of course we wouldn't want to do that. No Jewish person would.

"It's very upsetting to see people in these uniforms. It is completely disrespectful to the six million Jews and other people who were killed at the hands of the Nazis."

The 1940s Wartime Weekend, which is run annually by the East Lancashire Railway, has previously sparked controversy.

However, this year organizers thought they had done enough to dissuade participants from causing offence.

A disclaimer on the railway’s website carried a disclaimer which read: “Please note that certain uniforms have been banned so as not to cause offence to local communities.

“Anyone wearing certain uniforms will be asked to leave”.

Swastikas remained on the approved list, along with the uniform of the Wehrmacht – the common German soldier.

Andy Morris, the railway's general manager, said his staff had been actively checking costumes worn during the three-day event and had asked people to remove or conceal offending items.

"We have made a very clear statement to the re-enactors. The swastika itself isn't banned but what we have done is ask people not to wear the more offensive items such as items related to the SS, the deaths head insignia and the Gestapo.

"The vast majority of people have recognised the concerns although there have been a few isolated incidents where our staff have asked people to remove or conceal certain badges.

“If they are purists they are going to try to represent their costume in detail. However, everyone who was spoken to has been happy to comply with our requests."

Mr Morris said that the dress code was intended to balance community concerns with the historical accuracy of re-enactment events.

Last year officials from the Greater Manchester Jewish Representative Council lobbied organisers over the costumes and complained about a jeep being draped in a red swastika flag.

Michelle Wiseman, a Bury councillor who has also campaigned on the issue, said she was dismayed that the uniforms were still not fully banned from station premises.

"I've spoken with the East Lancashire Railway a number of times, and the situation we've got at the moment is a half-way house.

“The people who dress up like this don't realise the offence they cause - not only to the Jewish people in Bury but to the many veterans who fought in the war and were in German prisoner of war camps."

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