A railway in North Yorkshire has decided to withdraw an invitation to a World War II re-enactment group who dressed as German soldiers.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which operates as a charity, announced that it would not be inviting the group, called Das Reich, due to negative publicity.
The event, which has been taking place at the Levisham station, near Pickering, for the last 12 years, sees the site transformed into the German-occupied French village 'Le Visham', during a war-themed weekend held in October.
The weekend also involves Allied soldiers, but will no longer feature people posing as Nazi soldiers as the charity has reportedly blamed negative national media articles about the re-enactment.
The charity said in a statement:
With this in mind, as we plan for this year’s Railway In Wartime event, we had to consider last year’s national media articles negatively portraying Levisham’s German wartime re-enactment.
As a public charity we cannot ignore the media's portrayal, and so it is with considerable regret the unanimous decision was that the invitation to the re-enactment group, who have provided loyal support at Levisham for many years, would be withdrawn.
The decision has caused some discussion and debate among the public and those who used to be involved in the event.
Notably, comments came from Das Reich's Neil Robertson, who had designed educational scenarios each year at the weekend for the public.
While strongly denying that anyone from the group sympathised with Nazi views, he did express his regret upon hearing the decision. The Daily Mail quotes him as saying:
Both the re-enactment community and the station volunteers are saddened by the board’s decision, but respect it.
At Levisham, we have had 12 wonderful years together working as a team with the station staff to provide some of the most unique interactive displays ever seen at any show.
This has helped make the Levisham display probably the most successful preserved railway display in Europe and lauded around the world.
We would like to thank the thousands of public we have entertained and (hopefully) educated over the years and hope you all continue to support the show and contribute to its continued success.
Robertson was critical in the way that the media had covered the 2017 re-enactment labelling it as "power without responsibility".
Members of the wider public on social media felt that the decision was also a little hasty as, despite the controversial subject matter, it should still be treated as an educational experience.
That's just a small selection of the comments online, which typically fall into the anti-PC and 'snowflake' brigade. But maybe they have a valid point? Is it a WWII re-enactment without Germans?
In contrast, others felt the decision was correct, as the Nazi's present were historically incorrect and that they shouldn't be the type of people should be commemorated in such a manner.
Either way, we're reminded of this sketch from Mitchell and Webb?