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Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 8:41 pm
by Tychsen
This arises out of another thread in which a short piece of music was used in a reenactmnet movie clip sound track.

On one hand I accept it as a piece of history and in terms of education it is a useful item to be able to present and enlarge upon - if you watch Leni Riefenstahl's masterpiece Triumph of The Will the song can be heard several times within its true context.

Whilst I have gone on record as saying that in my view the choice of the song was an error ( IMO) , and no doubt some will take issue with me on this I would suggest that they pause for thought and detach themselves from any group to group disharmony which exists or any percieved or actual personality clashes which presently exist , I would ask that all these petty issues be set aside at this point as I introduce a dangerous word trust.

I am asking anyone here to trust me and trust each other , just give it a go - leave the baggage down God knows there seems to be a small mountain of it around.
Most of you don't know me , you may have heard of me " on the grapevine" - I don't know , I simply ask you to think , with an open mind on how we collectively may be percieved by members of the public - do this not pointing the finger at other groups or individuals but as people who take part in a common hobby and who try to do it well , do it with an open mind and be prepared to be critical of yourself bwefore you are critical of another.

I would ask the Moderators to be merciless in deleting any posts which exist only to slight others , incite flames or cause disorder or promote one upmanship - if you are coming to this thread to use others as a doormat , don't bother just leave now - if you have no interet in a reasonable exchange of views go now - I refuse to believe that it is impossible to have this and I say this in the knowledge that I have had some frank exchanges with others on differnet forums both on line and by pm.

My own game or interest is that of 1933-45 , although increasingly I am reading more about the early days of "The Party" and Hitler himself .
I am relatively new to reenacting - about two years but I am no stranger to the history I have outlined , almost 40 years to be honest , it is from this background which I have formed my opinions based on reading both the Allied and the Axis "sides of the coin".
I don't present myself as a "Know all" - I have met a few over the years and so far I have never met one who know as much as they project to know and I most certainly don't present myself as one.
This is just to say who I am and where I am coming from.
I have not started this thread to hound anyone or any group nor do I wish it to become so.

How do you think the public see us , do you ever stop to think what they see , how they percieve it and what impression it leaves on them ?
What actually are we trying to do and why do we do it ?
How do we do it and what way do we go about it ?
What is reenacting to you - is it just the opportunity to wear a unifrom , carry a gun , what is the end game of what you do and what exactly do you leave the public with ?
These are questions which I am increasingly asking myself , this hobby must be more than wearing a unifrom and collecting kit - we as individuals must get something out of it or we would not do it , but what do we leave the public with ?
Do they walk away thinking "what a bunch of nuts" or do we give them a genuine insight into the history of the times , in keeping with what they want to know and at what level of information they request ?

To do this well I think it needs a degree of thought - simply setting up is not enough - there has to be more , people expect more , they expect to be both educated and to a degree entertained and within this hobby we each find that which are most comfortable with , our own comfort zones .

To what extent should we question how we do what we do and is or should there be an expectation that we do - so often I think we are focused on pourselves we tend to forget that we by choice place ourselves in the public eye and in terms of what we say and do they will judge us as individuals and as groups.

Has anyone ever been asked an akward question - in terms of WW2 there are a number which are potentially difficult to address - are these matters discussed or given any thought or are they dealt with as they arise ?
A badly answered question ,a fudged answer , the wrong information given , indifference or ignorance does not go down well so where do such potentiual answers leave us ?
Do we bring our own views and prejudices into the fray when we should not and if so why do we do it , are we aware of doing so ?

This thread came from my asking questions like this - I think it right that we give somethought to what we do , how we do it and how we present ourselves to the public.

Now without decending to our so frequently usual routine of falling out does anyone want to joi this discussion in the spirit that it has been presented and to leave the knives and clubs at the door ?
It takes a little guts to do this , to leave the egos and meaningless ill will aside - has anyone got the guts to give it a go?

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:21 pm
by Na Fianna Éireann
there are signficant merits in what you say and dialogue is always a way forward

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:59 am
by RecycledViking
Wow James, you ask a lot of questions and I can see this is a serious discussion you wish to begin. Hooray! I'll answer some of the questions that I have an opinion on but I hope other people with lots more experience than me will write consummately.

As you can tell by my screenname and my love of a replica longship to the right, my particular field is Norse and Norse-Gael from approx. 900-1000. I've had but the one school year of experience in MedRen, but I'm a history nerd and I've been kicking around with American Revolutionary/Civil War re-enactors all my life and hanging out at Renfaires since I was thirteen or so.

When the public sees re-enactors, sorry to anyone who thinks otherwise, they see a bunch of history nerds. Whatever time period, whatever level of accuracy (past a minimum of course), the public sees people who are serious and maybe a little out of touch with reality. The more history-inclined may think "Hot damn that's a neat hobby" or "I wonder how long it takes to get into that outfit". The average person probably thinks "I wonder what those people do during the week" or "What a scary looking weapon that is!" The history illiterate likely think "Losers", but that's why we don't worry about them :)

I think re-enactment is all about reminding modern people that history is/was made up of real people too. Let's face it, museum mannikins are creepy. You don't want to look at them too long, and it's very difficult to be able to imagine a wax figure actually struggling to light a fire/wield a sword/dig a trench. With flesh-and-blood people, the public can see them actively demonstrating skills, can ask them to slow down to better show the activity (though this isn't recommended with combat ;) ), and can ask all sorts of in-depth or crazy questions. It's not a stuffy curator in a professional suit answering questions to the best of their ability, it's a sweaty Norman or a gritty Volunteer talking about their experience.

People take from re-enactors what they want to. Those who would never be moved or interested by a history museum would be bored by even a fancy display. But those who like history, who enjoy seeing 'the way they did things back then' and hearing about everyday life in a different time, are moved and excited by the 're-enacting' they encounter. If it makes them think differently about their modern lives, great. If it makes them want to try re-enactment themselves, even better!

Re-enacting, to me, is all about getting into the mind of my ancestors. (Cue the sappy music.) I take ancestor-worship pretty seriously and I like to honour the men and women who came before me by discovering how they worked, played, fought, ate, and slept. (I'm not talking about direct blood ancestors - I'm not a bit Manx while my latest persona is - but rather the people who came before everyone who is alive today.)
Some day, re-enactors will be honouring our memories by building computers and cars and demonstrating them for the public. We want them to take our lives and culture seriously, so I take my chosen era seriously too.

Again, I haven't got much experience with Irish re-enactment, so I hope others respond with their twenty-two cents (or more). Good topic James!!

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:26 am
by Tychsen
"RCV" - I have to just run by your answer at present will get a decent look at it this evening after toil - yes it is meant to be a serious type discussion one which all can throw their hat in the ring with as it applies to us all and is common to all areas of interst.
To me the common core has to be the historical context against which we work as groupos or individuals , if we get that right its a good foundation to work on and it should provide a good platform to address reeenacting as a serious form of bringingan awareness of the past to the general public - if we can inform , entertain and make folks think that they were glad they came along and want to learn more it is what we should be about.
How we come across and what we communicate in every sense does influence the public and whilst WW2 ( my own area does have some issues which have to be seriously and opennly addressed with due care and sensivitity) I have picked up the same comments from folks who have mentioned Irish War of Independence reenactment whioch for folks in this Island potentially produce huge issues and a fantastic opportunity for telling our own troubled past.

A leading historian recently mused that we don't spent too much time thinking of the wrongs of the the distant past but when history is still relevenat it produces problems and issues - I think we have to be aware of and be sensitive to these issues - that is the crux of this thread , that and how we present to the public and what message or thought they take away.

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:46 am
by vonbock
as always James your to the point and ask some very interesting questions my friend :D

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:39 pm
by Na Fianna Éireann
I think that James raises very valid points in this particular thread and this has indeed lead me to look indepth into my reasons for doing German re-enacting , my preferred period in time would ideally be the time frame 1916 to 1923 , having had to a greater extent more of interest in Ireland and the surrounding factors that lead to the Easter Rising and the events afterwards , But with the recent past I feel it would have been a bit too raw . Like James I have always had a passing interest in the Second War to end all wars and as a child viewing films and reading the comic books my interest was always there and on getting the opportunity to purchase the equipment once upon a time I decided that the time was right to do so .

One thing I do recognise and know is important is that it is imperative that anyone doing any type or re-enacting has a responsibility to portray the time period in history with accuracy and also with care ,especailly when doing German WW2 as this can easily be perceived as bordering on NEO NAZISM or hero worship off characters that were responsible for the mass murder off millions of innocents and this cannot be excused , it cannot be justified and lastly it cannot be ignored murder is murder is murder and no one portraying GERMANY 1933 TO 1945 can turn a blind eye to this .

Oft times we are asked at shows are we Nazis ?
do we hero worship mass murderers ?
do we support in any way the dreadful ideology of the third reich ?

The Answer is Simple

1. We are not nazis ,
2. We do not idolize mass murderers ,NOR SEEK TO DENY THE HOLOCAUST
3. We distance ourselves from the ideology of the Third Reich

We simply portray the German soldier of the war period 1939 - 1945 ,

We seek never to gloss over the Terrible Events ,

We seek never to excuse the extermination of Peoples of religions and off races of peoples that were the victims of the Third Reich .

I refer all the readers on this forum to look at our website page and view the disclaimer that We have this is simple not paying a lip service to the readership in essence it is a reality , We recognise that there is a collective and very real responsibility on German re-enactors to distance themselves from Nazi or Neo Nazi Ideology .

Our Website Regulations

General Regulations that members are expected to adhere to

1. You must respect the other group members and their property.

2. You must not talk to members of the press or other associated media, this ensures that you and the group will not be misrepresented by those that seek to undermine this hobby as a whole.

3. Do not swear in front of members of the public, nor show aggression towards them , group members or members of other groups.

4. Think Health and Safety at all times , are all guns knives and other weapons stored safely away from the public , when in a battle take extreme care not to injure anyone and take your hits without making a fuss and starting ill feeling.

5. No Nazi Salutes at anytime, neither in jest nor in joke, or because a member of the public wants a nice pose. This is forbidden and will upset people and there is no justification for it.

6. Obey the instructions given by the organisers and their marshals at all times.

7. Never ever give your weapon to a member of the public even for photograhic purposes this as this is illegal and bad practice that should be avoided at all costs.

8. Respect the laws of the land you are not permitted to have any rounds, pyrotechnics, blanks or weapons that is not properly licensed for you to have on your person and breaking thelaw will lead to your immediate expulsion from the group.

9. You requested not to espouse any nazi or neo nazi ideology, keep your political views to yourself or wear camp guard uniforms of SD insignia .

10. All weapons must be secured and never carried in public, such as openly in the streets or public highway in a manner in which could cause fear to the public. You will be expelled if you do this immediately from the group.

These rules are not definitive, they are subject to change and will be up dated as required, but for you and others to best enjoy and get the most from the hobby, KGK would request that you adhere to them and if you have any queries or suggestions to improve the groups ability to deliver a positive living history display that you bring it to the attention to the designated person within the group.

There is a lot more that could be added to this particular post but I feel that the essence of what I am trying to get across is by and largely addressed within .
Also I invite like James others to participate on this thread in a constructive and positive manner and throw aside the mill stones of the past and enter into postive dialogue pertaining to open discussion of their re-enactment time frame and the very real and significant responsibilities that accompany what they do .
In addition I ask that any one who seeks to start an arguement not bother to post leave the thread now for others to be open , constructive and positive regarding their re-enactment responsibilities .

"The term Nazi is derived from the first two syllables of Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, the official German language name of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (commonly known in English as the Nazi Party). Party members rarely referred to themselves as Nazis, and instead used the official term, Nationalsozialisten (National Socialists). The word mirrors the term Sozi, a common and slightly derogatory term for members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands). When Adolf Hitler took power, the use of the term Nazi almost disappeared from Germany, although it was still used by opponents in Austria."

Source: Wikidepia

Thank you and thank you for taking the opportunity to read these posts .

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:42 pm
by Tychsen
Something which struck me as a parallel of sorts was the mention of the "Black and Tans" being reenacted / displayed within the context of the Irish war of Independence and the German "Nazi" WW2 material.
It was mentioned that in this neck of the woods the German aspect is almost ignored in terms of potentail controversy yet the 1916 / 22 era does still present issues whioch people feel uncomfortable with - as a result of the bitter nature of the conflict and the scars which still exist.
Coming from my background Irish history was not taught and it is now that I am seeking to play catch up on it , a belated learning process.
From my point of view I welcome this and feel no threat from anyone wearing volunteer uniforms or expressing their view on Irish History , unless you are prepared to listen you won't learn and history as I have said to others has to be viewed in terms of "warts and all" it can't be cherry picked.
My own views being what they are apply to WW2 as well - it has to be looked at "warts and all" and in terms of German reenactment potentially dificult issues should be met head on , be they war crimes ( actual or alledged) , the role of various orgainsations ( SS , SD , the conduct of the war in various regions ) and the extent to which members of the German Army itself knew of and either confronted , ignored or cooperated with criminal activity or the abuse of civilian population groups.
A hard one to take on but one which has to be addressed.

I must admit Mairtin I didn't know we (KGK) should not speak to the press - I am off a mind that if you don't speak to them they are inclined to make it up or draw conclusions which suit themselves - perhaps something we should discusss at our next get together. :| ;) :o
( I always thought the BBC made much of this on their "expose".)

Whilst most WW2 reenactors are aware of several highly decorated soldiers and whilst we can admire their courage and actions this is distinct from the engendering any hero worship - I view ("HW" as being shallow and immature - just my 2d).

Most members of the public have a fairly sterotypical view of the Germans and much of it is from the movies of the 1960's / TV shows of that era - the Holocaust is equally misunderstood and the timeline which goverened its evolution , its scope and outcomes.
Certainly any denial or hint of denial of the Holocoust is a death sentence and rightly so , having crossed swords with a number of such deniers their arguements don't hold up to examination , depensding on misinformation , misrepresentation and downright dishonesty to make "a case". ( A House of Cards).
Certainly any questions relating to the "H" should be answered and openly so - it presents no conflict of interests.
I think a respectful knowledge of the eera you are representing and the application of that knowledge as part of any reenacting is the key to getting it right and avoiding any potential misunderstandings.

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:04 pm
by Na Fianna Éireann

I think that the a certain programme made in england about german re-enacting in itself justifies why it can be a faux pas to talk to the media , like a previous topic already discussed on this forum that turned into a quagg mire , the media can portray whatever is said in a negative way with artistic flair .
I was at the show were X was walking about talking to people and listened to what was being said however when the programme was aired it failed to present an accurate and factual account of re-enactment in the UK . Which I may add was a travesty as there are good groups out there and some bad ones thankfully the latter being a small minority . This programme already was Judge and Jury and a Verdict was delivered long before the programme was aired , that is why it is wise to at least have a caviet when talking to the media as they may not always represent you as you see yourself or your choosen hobby through your eyes, and this applies to any hobby and those that court attention from footballers to popstars .

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:41 pm
by knightofredemption
To the best of my recollection that program set out to discover if neo nazi's were operating in and around WWII re-enactment, it was open about that. The fact that it did shows that German WWII re-enactment has to be very careful to keep its own house clean. Which I'm sure you all do so don't inundate me with your in house rules and regulations. Anyone dipping a toe into the murky waters of resent Irish history will have to do the same.
To avoid the press is to stick your head in the sand, ignore them at your peril. Tell them nothing and they will be forced to make it up.

Re: Being "Too PC" ?

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:08 pm
by Tychsen
M , I don't doubt , I know that there are great lads and groups in England and that the Beeb went there with an agenda - their making a meal over that "historian" of Real History David Irving and giving him yet another free opportunity to grab a headline was the bottom of the barrel as far as I was concerned.
Talking to him was meant to add colour and substance to the show - for me it undermined it as the link which was sought didn't exist- a damp squid.

In terms of being able to tell the press who we are , what we do and what our values are presents no problem , being up front and leaving them nothing to trade on does potentially take the wind out of their sails.