Each year in the British town of Haworth, in West Yorkshire, a charity for former armed services members and their families holds a 1940s-themed nostalgia festival meant to honor the heroes of World War II — and every year, for the past three years, they’ve had to contend with men who show up dressed not as their favorite British war heroes, but as Nazis.
During World War I,I most major cities in England were decimated by repeated bombings carried out by the Nazi air force, a brutal campaign known as The Blitz that killed more than 40,000 British civilians and left over a million homeless.
While most of the between 25,000 and 30,000 celebrants who visit Haworth to remember the 1940s show up to honor the British servicemen who fought in the war and the civilians who manned the home front, for the past three years, a small number have made a big impression by honoring the enemy responsible for those thousands of British deaths.
“We can’t actually ban people from wearing these outfits but it’s something we always discourage,” said Stephen King, of the of the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association, the charity that organizes the annual festivities. “Many people lost their lives in the Second World War and the last thing we’d want is for those people to be mocked or disrespected in any way.”
The charity hopes to raise £25,000 — or about $42,000 — from this years event, which also marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. But the partygoers dressed in Nazi uniforms aren’t helping the cause.
Their presence has been so offensive that several business and restaurant owners in Haworth post signs warning that customers dressed in Nazi regalia will not be served.
While some of the rogue revelers wear WWII-era German combat uniforms, which is potentially offensive enough, others were spotted dressed immaculately in uniforms of the SS, the elite unit that either carried out most of the Nazi war crimes and atrocities.
It was the SS, for example, who were responsible for guarding and operating the Auschwitz death camp and other concentration camps used by Nazis in the Holocaust.
But organizers say that as much as they’d like to, they can’t ban the Nazi-worshipping festival-goers because there is simply no law against wearing Nazi Uniforms.