National Trust distances itself from Nazi memorabilia at event on its land

'It was fascist fetishism. People were posing with these ‘soldiers’,' says visitor

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 22 August 2018 13:40
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A military re-enactment event featuring Second World War German uniforms and Nazi memorabilia was hosted on land belonging to the National Trust near Lacock Abbey
A military re-enactment event featuring Second World War German uniforms and Nazi memorabilia was hosted on land belonging to the National Trust near Lacock Abbey

The National Trust has demanded an “urgent explanation” from a charity after Nazi memorabilia was offered for sale and attendees wore Nazi-era military uniforms at an event held on its land in Wiltshire.

A complaint was made by a visitor to the “living history” Second World War event held near Lacock Abbey.

The annual Lacock at War Event, organised by West Wiltshire’s Military Vehicle Trust (MVT), features re-enactments, people in authentic military dress, demonstrations and traders selling Second World War memorabilia. Some 8,000 people attended.

Items on display included an original Star of David yellow arm band that Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis, though this was reportedly not for sale.

One guest said she was horrified to see Nazi memorabilia being sold, and had cried when she saw the people wearing German military uniforms from the Second World War.

“It was fascist fetishism. People were posing with these ‘soldiers’,” she told The Sun.

Attendees claimed they also saw Nazi emblem pins, swastika patches and other original Third Reich symbols including the imperial eagle.

The National Trust said the displays were “insensitive and unacceptable”, and has warned the MVT not to allow them again in future.

John Wardle, the secretary of the West Wiltshire branch of the MVT, defended the charity’s sale of original Nazi artifacts.

He told the Press Association: “One of the traders was selling Nazi memorabilia. There’s nothing illegal about selling Nazi memorabilia.

“There were no Nazis at the event – there were people dressed in German uniforms but they weren’t Nazis.”

He added that no members of the military in Nazi Germany were allowed to be affiliated to a political party, and that no one wearing a Nazi or SS uniform is allowed to attend the organisation’s events.

Mr Wardle said the event was now in its seventh year and that they had never had complaints in the past.

He said he believed the person making the complaint was American, and that he knew it was illegal to sell Nazi memorabilia in the US.

In a statement the National Trust said: “We are aware of concerns raised over a ‘living history’ event at Lacock over the weekend and have contacted the organisers for an urgent explanation.

“The event was organised by the Military Vehicle Trust and included uniforms and materials, which understandably caused distress and led to a complaint.

“We will make it very clear to the MVT that these displays were insensitive, unacceptable and should not be repeated.”

Photographs posted online by another attendee also showed re-enactors dressed as British soldiers from both world wars, as American GIs and in other period dress.

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