Saturday, 30 Sep 2023

Group wearing Nazi SS uniforms clash with furious locals over costumes

Group wearing Nazi SS uniforms clash with furious locals at World War II-themed festival in Norfolk town as crowds turn on them over their ‘deeply offensive’ dress

  • Sheringham locals were shocked when the group of men arrived at the event 

The organisers of a popular 1940s festival are facing calls to ban Nazi uniforms after ugly scenes saw clashes between locals and a group of men dressed in ‘deeply offensive’ SS costumes complete with swastikas.

The men were confronted by crowds on Sheringham High Street in Norfolk during the resort’s annual Second World War-themed festival at the weekend, which sees people dress up and watch aircraft from the time fly overhead.

The group of around ten to fifteen people subsequently had to be escorted out of the area during the ‘1940s weekend’ by police to stop trouble escalating.

The annual event drew up to 25,000 people across both days, many of them in period dress, with photos and video online showing dancing in the streets and family celebrations.

But the popular event was marred when the group in Nazi-era German uniforms assembled outside a local pub and ‘marched in unison’ through the jovial crowds.

The men were confronted by crowds on Sheringham High Street in Norfolk during the resort’s annual Second World War-themed festival

Some of the uniforms had SS markings on their collars, representing Hitler’s infamous death squad, as well as badges featuring the ‘death’s head’ symbol and swastikas.

Their presence angered many locals with onlookers shouting at them and telling them they were not welcome.

Event marshals stepped in to ask the men to leave before police also intervened to shepherd the group away from the angry crowds.

The incident has prompted calls to ban Nazi uniforms from future weekends and the town council has agreed to discuss proposals to make the event Allied-uniform only.

German military clothing from the period is not currently banned – although the North Norfolk Railway, which runs an associated event over the same weekend, does not permit such garments.

A spokesman for festival organisers said German uniforms are permitted, as long as they do not ‘promote the Nazis’.

He claimed the incident had been a ‘misunderstanding’ and that the group was there to ‘commemorate the German people’.

Witnesses said the group congregated outside The Lobster pub, where they were confronted by locals.

Mike Keller, who lost family members in the Holocaust and whose father escaped Nazi Germany in the Kindertransport, was among those appalled by the sight of the uniforms.

He said: ‘It was a lovely family atmosphere and very friendly, when suddenly from nowhere there were 10-15 men dressed in authentic SS uniform literally marching in unison.

‘It was deeply offensive. These men were not milling about and blending in among people. They were marching and making a demonstration. It was frightening.

‘My father was from a Jewish family who lost his parents and brothers and sisters in death camps. He was fortunate to escape with my uncle via Kindertransport, so having to see this with my son was mortally offensive and a disgraceful act.’

A spokesman for festival organisers claimed the incident had been a ‘misunderstanding’

Another witness said: ‘When the group gathered outside of the pub, the family-friendly atmosphere of the day fell tense. There was so much tension and shock in the air.

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‘There were many jeers and heckles from onlookers. While the group stood proud, one man at the pub confronted them.

‘That’s when the police arrived and swiftly escorted the group out of town. It all happened quite quickly.’

Commenting online, visitor Julie Jones said: ‘Loved the effort of people dressing up plus their dogs. An enjoyable atmosphere too… until I spotted a group dressed in German uniform. 

‘I was surprised how upset I felt and think it was totally inappropriate at a joyous occasion celebrating the good of the 40’s era.’

Sheringham Town Council have said that they will discuss with Norfolk police a way to avoid a repeat situation at future weekends.

A spokesman said: ‘Sheringham Town Council has been made aware that on the Saturday there was an incident in the town that was managed by the police.

‘Sheringham Town Council will consult with the police, North Norfolk Railway and others to determine what happened and what action may be taken to prevent a recurrence.’

A spokesperson for Norfolk Police said: ‘A police officer on patrol in Sheringham came across a confrontation in the High Street on Saturday at about 5.30pm, involving a man and a group of people who had been attending an event.

‘The officer intervened and quickly resolved the incident. One man reported being assaulted and this is being investigated further. No one was injured during the incident.’

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