Whenever I get an invite to a fancy dress party I’m always faced with the dilemma, should I hire a costume or make my own?
Now, anybody who has traversed the aisles of a fancy dress hire or costume shop will know, hiring costumes is not cheap. This leaves the option of cobbling together something ‘Home Brew’ style and complimenting it with purchased accessories. Or buying a readymade ‘Cheapo’ outfit most likely to be made predominately of PVC, Nylon, gold coloured plastic and dyed turkey feathers.
Out of interest, why is it that fancy dress shops seem to be pretty well overstocked with costumes for ladies that take the traditional ideas, (Nurse, Witch, Superhero, Fairytale , Policewoman etc) and give them an “Ann Summers” twist.
I can’t believe that the first idea a woman has when looking for a fancy dress costume is “What type of slut should I go as ?”
But I am digressing of course, The title caught your eye and nearly three paragraphs in I still haven’t mentioned Nazi’s, so please be patient.
Now I’m recently faced with finding a costume theme for a 1940’s, war period party…Several ideas cross my mind, American G.I., British Soldier, perhaps a Spiv etc….Then a chance remark about ‘Dad’s Army’ got my mind cogs working flat out. I briefly considered the British Home Guard but was somehow attached to the idea of the ‘U-Boat Captain’ from one episode. Before you know it I had gravitated to that other staple Croft and Lloyd vehicle, ‘Allo Allo’
As there were several of us going as a group, having a common theme seemed like a good idea, and this ‘Allo Allo’ theme would accommodate both the men and women much better than Dad’s Army would.
Now at some point when trying to source suitable costumes for a theme like ‘Allo Allo’ you are going to be faced with the whole WW2 German Officer thing. Have you tried to actually get a WWII German Officer uniform ?
Firstly, fancy dress shops seem to want to steer clear of the whole German/Nazi thing. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised at this as there was quite a furore when Prince Harry attended a fancy dress party dressed as a German Officer.
A predictable Media hyped backlash appealing to peoples moral outrage and the association of the German officers uniform as a Nazi emblem resulted in the whole genre of WWII German Uniforms being considered a taboo subject.
Whilst trying to find suitable items of German uniform on the Internet I came across an article that had appeared in the Manchester Evening News shortly after the Prince Harry escapade.
This was an inspired piece of media outrage which roped in the British Costume Association in calling on fancy-dress shops not to supply Nazi uniforms, except for theatre productions.
One even had a agreement with a makeup supplier that it was a condition of the contract they would not supply such ‘evil’ things. Talk about taking the moral high ground!
So that pretty much explained why it was difficult to source such attire, both at the High St fancy dress outlets and the popular online ones*
Now German WW2 uniforms were quite smart, but it is automatically and almost universally assumed amongst the Middle England, tabloid newspaper reading classes that everyone ever wearing one was firm supporter of the German Fascist party, a Hitler worshipper and therefore a held the Nazi viewpoint close to their hearts.
Would you assume that everyone currently serving in the British Army is a supporter of the Labour Party ?…Thought so.
Let me give you a single example of how wrong this whole German Officer=Nazi assumption is.
During WWII, Erwin Rommel was a serving German Field Marshall, famed for his Skill and compassion. Known as the’ Desert Rat’, he was a brilliant tactician and led the German Army’s Afrika Korps against General Montgomery in North Africa.
He wore a German Uniform, complete with his Iron Cross and German military markings, but he was a first and foremost a soldier….not a Nazi supporter or sympathiser by any means. He famously disobeyed many of Hitler’s orders regarding execution of POW’s and later in France refused to deport captured Jews.
He tolerated Hitler like you or me would tolerate a manager at work who we didn’t particularly like. Sometimes you just get on with it.
He was much admired by Allied commanders and was even complimented by Churchill himself.
There is almost an universal assumption amongst the general media educated populace that the WWII German Army uniform is too closely associated with war crimes and atrocities. Somehow, British and American uniforms tend to be revered as pure and absolute. After all, the Allies were above reproach weren’t they?
Perhaps a bit of history is in order…
The infamous Dachau massacre committed by US 7th Army in 1945
The Biscari Massacre(s) of 1943 where over 75 Italian POW’s were shot by members of the US 180th Regimental Combat Team.
The joint British & US bombing of Dresden in Feb 1945 . Dresden had little strategic or Military value, yet the intense bombing and firestorm which accounted for around 25,000 civilian deaths is considered by some to have been un-necessary and brutal
I could go on
No angels in War are there?…on either side.
So why is the wearing of a British or American WWII uniform not hyped up as unacceptable by the media ? Well, there is a popular saying, “The Victors Write History”
WWII is part of 20th Century history and pretending the Germans were the only evil ones or sticking your fingers in your ears and going “La La La” if and when we get around to talking about war crimes, isn’t going to make it any different.
So once again, I ask. Why is it that obtaining, hiring and wearing an Allied uniform is acceptable, but German uniforms are not? Let’s look at parallels shall we?
Nowadays, people happily go to fancy dress parties dressed as pirates.
..should this be deemed acceptable when you consider the lifestyle and brutality of both ancient and modern day pirates?…Of course it is because it’s all been romanticised by Walt Disney and Johnny Depp.
I am pretty sure those people who do dress up as Jack Sparrow or Blackbeard have nothing in common with real modern or historical pirates or share any of the same views. Holding up a yacht off the coast of Somalia and kidnapping the occupants is quite low down on their ‘To Do list’
Do we see the Sun newspaper scolding them and hyping up the extreme bad taste that dressing as a Pirate for fun represents? However we automatically assume that donning a German WWII uniform makes the wearer a Nazi, a Fascist sympathiser and anti-Semitic mass murderer!. Do you think Prince Harry really held those views when he hired that uniform?
In the wonderful self righteous media world, tags like ‘war criminal’, ‘paedophile’ and ‘terrorist’, have developed into an casually used label, easily thrown around to hype up sections of our population into a state of moral outrage.
Perhaps the next time you are invited to a fancy dress party you should don a simple ‘dog collar’ and go as that most family friendly and un-officious of persons…a Priest….Then everyone can just safely assume you are a paedophile.
* Luckily, I did find suppliers of what I wanted, at the market aimed at film & TV and re-enactment groups
The History Bunker
So now I have got things organised, but I still have a bee in my bonnet about the whole thing, hence this rant.