Sunday, 24 May 2009

War crime at the Bluebell

What is it with heritage railways and the Second World War?

A number of years ago Peak Rail managed to offend nearly everybody by running a picture of an SS 're-enactor' on their magazine's front cover.

Now the Bluebell has gone one better.

Pictured on this website are supposed British soldiers 're-enacting' the summary execution of a German spy at Horsted Keynes station!

And it would appear for nothing more treasonable than carrying a bottle of beer.

Granted it may be lager but the death sentence for a lapse in taste?

Note in particular the British Military Police corporal administering a shot to the back of the head in the style of the
Einsatzgruppen Kommando.

Presumably a War Crimes Tribunal was also 're-enacted' immediately after this tasteful tableaux concluded?

Perhaps Boris and TfL should recruit this over-zealous lot to police the alcohol free Underground.

UPDATE: This from 'Top Link man' over at another heritage railway...

We were appalled at the mock execution.

We do also run a war weekend, but the emphasis is on the home front, long distance nostalgia for egg powder, a degree of fun dressing up in 1940s fashions, a collection of suitable vehicles and of course the Spifire flypast.

Yes, there are soldiers in uniform and yes, some German ones at that - but nothing like this.

The mock execution was a ghastly error of judgement by someone - but please don't damn the heritage movement as a whole with this particular brush.

UPDATE: This from Korschtal...

I see the point, but if we only remember the nostalgic things, and not the darker side, I think we run a greater risk of forgetting what a terrible thing war is, and what it does to people - this sort of thing did happen and often to people who were innocent.

I think it depends how it is done - and I can't comment on that as I wasn't there - but I don't think reenacting this sort of thing is automatically wrong.

It may also serve as a reminder of what a police state looks like and make people think carefully about whom and what they vote for.

UPDATE: This just from Our man in the four foot...

I’m sorry?

Was that re-enacting?

As a definition:
‘Historical re-enactment is a type of role-play in which participants attempt to recreate some aspects of a historical event or period’.

As I very much doubt that any such summary execution took place on the British mainland – where is the re-enactment aspect?

Once again
this is simply a bunch of little boys in uniforms playing soldiers.

I would have expected better from the Bluebell but it appears they have also sunk into the mire of piss-poor heritage events.

Nostalgia is fine but this stuff is effectively ‘tabloid’ history and demeans those who fought for our freedom 70 years ago.

So do us a favour guys…..grow up!

UPDATE: This view from 'PD'...

As one of the "Little Boys who need to grow up".

May I first of all say I have been involved in assisting "Heritage Railways" to put on 1940s vents for over 15 years. In that time, I, and many of my friends and associates have directly contributed to bringing in tens of thousands of pounds, if not hundreds of thousands, to keep Steam Railways going.

Volunteers and willing helpers, not lofty elitists keep these things running.

And the so called "SS Soldier" on the cover of the Peak Rail journal is dressed in Army camouflage and representing an ordinary German Army Grenadier

...just as I would not know a 2-4-4 Saddle tank from a 4-6-4 Deltic - please don't simply parrot another hack's scrawlings.

This is a big wide world and there is room for everyone except the intolerant!

Oh - and to address the point of the execution - Abhorrent - repulsive and out of place -
No responsible group allied or otherwise would contemplate such a vile pantomime.

This is obviously the actions of two aged duffers out to shock or show off. It has no place or value in current Living History or Re-enactment.

UPDATE: This from The Master...

What's the preservation movement come to?

Summary executions as a form of family entertainment?

Thank heaven no railway has a rake of cattle trucks otherwise we might see a 'tasteful' re-enactment of trains to... (deleted for reasons of taste).

UPDATE: The Sun has picked up the story.

UPDATE: This just in from our Independent Expert...

The worst aspect of this debacle is that it feeds the view of most Fleet Street journos that railway enthusiasts are either saddos or weirdos!

UPDATE 13:00 Monday 26th May: Incredibly the offending page is still up...

UPDATE: This from Leo Pink...

My local Lidl doesn't seem to stock the lager shown but the label is not entirely clear.

Can someone advise on the correct brand name?