Bat­tle be­gins as Nazis drop in for a beer

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY LEON SY­MONS

MANCH­ESTER JEWISH lead­ers have ac­cused a lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion of break­ing a prom­ise by al­low­ing par­tic­i­pants in a 1940s week­end to wear Nazi uni­forms.

Bolton Street sta­tion in Bury, an area with a large Jewish com­mu­nity, was turned by the East Lan­cashire Rail­way so­ci­ety into a re-cre­ation of a 1940s war zone at the week­end, with Bri­tish “Tom­mies” rub­bing shoul­ders with “Yanks” and “Ger­mans”.

Com­plaints two years ago about peo­ple wear­ing black SS uni­forms led the or­gan­i­sa­tion to ban them and any SS in­signia. This was made clear on its web­site ad­ver­tise­ment for this year’s event. How­ever, it said that other Ger­man uni­forms were ac­cept­able.

But that ban did not sat­isfy Coun­cil­lor Michelle Wise­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Manch­ester Jewish Com­mu­nity Care, nor Rabbi Ye­huda Brodie of the Manch­ester Beth Din.

Cllr Wise­man, who has just been re-elected to Bury Coun­cil, said: “We have had a lot of cor­re­spon­dence with this or­gan­i­sa­tion in the last few years. They said it was peo­ple de­pict­ing the times. As far as I un­der­stood it, they had banned all Nazi uni­forms.

“We told them it was not ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause the Ger­mans were never here. There is noth­ing wrong with wartime com­mem­o­ra­tions, but they promised that this wouldn’t hap­pen again, and I am hor­ri­fied that it has hap­pened once more.

“It’s not just the Jewish com­mu­nity that has been up­set, but also war vet­er­ans who fought them. Manch­ester also has a size­able Pol­ish com­mu­nity, whose coun­try also suf­fered un­der the Nazis.”

Manch­ester Jewish Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil pres­i­dent Bar­bara Gold­stone said: “I am not happy about this at all. We have com­plained about it be­fore and they said things would change, but ob­vi­ously they haven’t.”

Rabbi Ye­huda Brodie, regis­trar of Manch­ester Beth Din, praised the or­gan­is­ers last year for tak­ing the de­ci­sion to ban the SS uni­forms. But he also be­lieved the ban should ap­ply to all Nazi uni­forms.

“The pain caused to any vic­tim of the Nazi hor­ror is still such that any at­tempt to as­so­ci­ate with that would be anath­ema to any de­cent per­son,” said Rabbi Brodie.

“I would urge the or­gan­is­ers again to be even more vig­or­ous and vig­i­lant in stop­ping this.”

A wo­man at East Lan­cashire Rail­way, who did not want to be named, said those who dressed in Nazi uni­forms had come from out­side the area.

“There are nu­mer­ous 1940s events around the coun­try and th­ese peo­ple tour them,” she said. “This was some­thing we were aware of and we went to great lengths to make it clear that black SS uni­forms and in­signia were not al­lowed.

“The week­end was about the 1940s and the war was a ma­jor part of that. Peo­ple do like to dress up and have fun but we don’t set out to up­set any­one.”

When called by the JC, event or­gan­iser Neil Park­ing­ton said: “I am mak­ing my tea and I do not want to speak to you. I do not have to. This is a free coun­try and I speak to who I want to.”

PHOTO: LAWRENCE PUR­CELL

Sieg ale: two “Nazis” at last week­end’s re-en­act­ment fes­ti­val

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