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Sartorial semiotics

My last blog post ("The Wrong Trousers") was still fresh in memory when I stumbled across a link, and because misery loves company, I feel the need to share it with you.

I understand weddings are affairs that tend to require getting dressed up.

And cosplay is, well, "a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Characters are often drawn from popular fiction in Japan, but recent trends have included American cartoons and Sci-Fi", as wikipedia so drily puts it.

Naturally, somebody was going to put the two activities together: cosplay weddings aren't that unusual these days.

However, I can't help thinking that this is going too far. (Note: link goes to Google's cache because the target web page appears to be under DDoS at present.)

What were they thinking? How on earth is history taught wherever they come from? And what, I wonder, would real Nazis make of these wedding photos?

199 Comments

1:

Well, the Nazis did have the best uniforms (made by Hugo Boss), after all.

2:

It demands to be Godwinned...

BTW, the images seem to also be getting DDoSed, and it is eminently nonobvious whether this comes from the accident of wild degrees of interest or from hostile reaction.

What *real* Nazis would make of this is indeed a matter for befuddlement.

3:

How on earth is history taught wherever they come from?

As something that happened on the other side of the Earth in an era before the Internet, a conflict between two groups with which Japan had very little interest, although one of which was nominally a Japanese ally. An ally that, like the Japanese, lost a similar conflict at about the same time but, like the Japanese, had a powerfully effective design sensibility.

I'd almost suspect this of being a stand-in nod to Japanese nationalism.

4:

Nearer to home, your Prince Harry got himself in hot water back in 2005 when he thought it a sensible idea to go to a fancy dress party dressed up as a member of the German African Korps.

I note that that was not a "political" unit, and thus, in theory, not so properly tarred from the horrors of the Gestapo and SS. The "interested historian" in me thinks that remembering the valiant and not-completely-horrid bits of the German forces shouldn't need to be a terrible idea. My brother's father-in-law was, once upon a time, a Panzer commander, and there's no indication that he was an awful character, so that I'd find it interesting to see him in uniform.

Of course, there can be a rather huge gulf between interesting and things I'd properly encourage.

It's always interesting to see what taboos emerge, and the taboo against WWII 'stuff' is certainly that.

5:

How on earth is history taught wherever they come from?

I guess not that much worse than how it is taught in our part of the world - as soon as non-European and non-American history is concerned. Is there anything at all that at least 80% of the people here know about the history of those places we call Iran, Irak and Afghanistan these days? Not just, but including, the pre-9/11 US involvement in all three of those states that served to create a living hell for a lot of people there. (Afghanistan war, Iran/Iraq War - multiple side-switching in the latter, including Iran-Contra)

In general, I would prefer to have people running around dressed up as Nazi and remembering that what they did was done by mere human beings and can repeat(!) unless we're keeping our eyes open. (And having people dress up as Nazis anywhere outside of period-pieces on TV shows helps a lot to remember that they were just human beings.)

Instead of (as it is today) suppressing everything that has anything to do with Nazis, including any comparison of what they did with what else is being done and has been done by people. The downside to Godwin's law is that it makes people turn a blind eye towards the worst parts of human nature.

I know about your family's history and I'm not naive enough to believe that things will not likely turn out to combine the worst of the two aspects. But I really think it's important to stress that Nazis were a part of our species, coming out of a no less respectable society than any other, in fact, until enough of them got into the grip of this monstrous ideology that made them even worse than the rest of European Imperialists. (Which takes some doing.)

But currently, we're treating this episode as if it had been committed not by human beings, but by some alien invaders from another planet. And that's just not true.

6:

I imagine all real Nazis are outraged.
Those people have not earned the right to wear the SS uniform.

That's one reason why you will see US neo-Nazis in the USA dressing up as SA rather than SS. In fact, I believe that one of them was once asked why he did not wear an SS uniform by Louis Theroux, and gave that answer.

7:

Christopher Browne writes: "It's always interesting to see what taboos emerge."

The odd thing is that, despite the horrific nature of what the war in the Pacific was to Americans, we've never developed quite as powerful a taboo against white & red by themselves, or against the various emblems and symbols of the Rising Sun.

It's also interesting that we've never developed quite the same allergic reactions to equally horrific leaders. Che and Mao t-shirts are acceptable, even popular here on the American left coast, and I've even seen a Stalin t-shirt (with a well-designed "Ol' Joe" logo, no less).

Is there something about Hitler that suggests that can happen again, here, that Che, Mao, and Stalin don't?

8:

Anime and Nazi chic sometimes takes some very strange turns such as this card game:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/72809/barbarossa

"In the game, you and up to 5 other players take the role of German commanders of sorts, working together to bring down Moscow in a reenactment of Operation Barbarossa, but for some reason your men are all anime girls/women wearing little clothing for uniforms."

Although a portion of this is along the lines of "Tom of Finland".

But the Nazi/Chobits bit is rather puzzling. Chobits and Chi are the least likely context I'd expect to see Nazi Chic particularly given the plot. (To be fair CLAMP did have a few artbook images with "CLAMP school detectives" which had rather undefined fascistic outfits.):
http://9.p.s.mfcdn.net/store/manga/185/01-003.0/compressed/01.jpg

9:

"Is there something about Hitler that suggests that can happen again, here, that Che, Mao, and Stalin don't?"

It can certainly happen again, although not in exactly the same form. Consider this expt:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave

There is much about National Socialism that is attractive once the racism and aggressive militarism is stripped out. You end up with something very much like modern China. Except they do it better:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1X3Vyhm56Eo

10:

Maybe the reason why the Nazi-taboo is so much stronger is that, in Europe, it all took place at home? It leaves a different kind of reaction. Mumble years ago, during the filming of a WW II flick in my hometown, the Nazi-dressed extras having trouble getting beer in the local shops. (And they were local people, who could explain perfectly well why they were dressed like that.)

11:
How on earth is history taught wherever they come from?

Well, that's really the important thing here: to them, it's history. It's not a cultural taboo of random, semi-coherent rage. History is something that can be copied, mocked, and rewritten in alt-history stories - and there are quite a few of those in Japan where the Nazis aren't cast as the force of ultimate evil.

And to be fair, they weren't. They did many bad things, and some good things, like a lot of governments. On the whole they weren't a very nice one, but our cultural outrage at them has got less to do with what they did, and more to do with the fact that they did it to us.

Consider: the Mongol empire really was not any better, but we don't revile them. Their acts of genocide and mass slaughter were directed at other parts of the world.

12:

"Consider: the Mongol empire really was not any better, but we don't revile them. Their acts of genocide and mass slaughter were directed at other parts of the world."

Or much closer to home, the Roman Empire.
Crucifixion of thousands of prisoners on a regular basis, the selling of whole populations into slavery, slavery as an institution more massive than any in history, the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of deaths in the arena. And we are supposed to identify with them in movies and TV series.

13:

> the German African Korps ... was not a "political" unit

So much so that General Rommel, its famous commander, refused throughout to allow any SS troops within his theatre. Rommel was eventually forced to commit suicide after his involvement in the 1944 plot against Hitler.

None of which prevented the Nazis and their later sympathisers from using the Korps exploits as a propaganda tool. Its memory is still tainted by those associations.

14:

Well, first off, the history of the second World War is something which is treated with a certain amount of delicacy in Japan (mostly because they were involved, on the losing side). There's a general acceptance that yes, it happened, but most of the time it isn't mentioned, and most of the time if it is mentioned, it's in the most general terms possible, and as vague as can be. One of the things which isn't mentioned widely is that the Japanese army in WW2 had its own atrocity-mongers - however the evidence is still being dealt with through their popular culture. Part of this, I suspect, is the rather interesting attitudes toward science and scientists portrayed in a lot of Japanese media (three examples which spring immediately to my mind: "Godzilla", "Final Fantasy VII" and "Akira" - all of which portray scientists and science as being extremely problematic and frightening).

Secondly, the war in Europe literally happened half a world away for them. It's the same thing here in Australia - when we focus on WW2 history in schools, a lot of it focusses on the war in the Pacific, because that's the one which was closer to home, and closer to our personal interests, and which came closest to our borders (Darwin was bombed). We also learn about the African campaign, because that's where Australian troops were first involved (the Rats of Tobruk) but mostly it's all about the Pacific, because that's where we're living. What happened in Nazi Germany is taught, but it's taught at a distance, at one remove, because while what happened was terrible and frightening, it didn't happen directly to us, or directly to our neighbours. I suspect it's also taught at one remove because if we're honest, we know full well our leaders probably agreed with the Nazis on at least some matters of racist policy (this is the country which had a "White Australia" immigration policy for the first three-quarters of a century of our existence, after all - we don't have a moral leg to stand on).

Anyway, back to the point I was making - for the average Japanese citizen, particularly those of my age (40) and younger, what happened in WW2 is something which happened to their grandparents at the very least. It didn't affect them. What happened in Europe happened half a world away, and didn't come near Japan. It's not something they have the same level of emotional attachment to that even the Australian people do - and these days in Australia, it's still something which happened to grandma and grandpa (or nonna and poppa, or yaya and papou, or oma and opa, or whichever term best suits their ethnicities) at best, if not to their parents. Yes, it was terrible, but it's still two generations away, and that's forever.

"As year follows year, more old men disappear;
Someday no-one will march there at all."

("The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" - Eric Bogle)

15:

As far as I'm concerned, traditional wedding garb is cosplay too. -.-

16:

How on earth is history taught wherever they come from?

Very differently than we are used to seeing it, definitely. From memories of the Military Museum in Beijing (and in no particular order):

•The war started in 1931*, and got really nasty in 1937.

•Japanese did horrible things, killed many people. German ambassador in Nanking (a Nazi) saved hundreds of thousands of Chinese.

•Detachment 731 did really nasty stuff (vivisection of pregnant woman, for example). Granted immunity from prosecution for war crimes in exchange for US getting data on biological weapons**.

•Chiang Kai Shek used a lot of the aid he got from the US to fight the Communists, not the Japanese. ("Japanese are a disease of the skin, Communists a disease of the heart.") Chiang declared war on Germany, but I don't think this was mentioned as he's not seen as a legitimate leader***.

As expected, it mostly concentrates on what happened in China. 1931-1949 forms a narrative (at least, the English signs do). Whether school textbooks go into more details on the European war I don't know. I'd be surprised if they covered many details.


The previous exhibit hall covers things like the Opium Wars and the Eight Power Invasion. I'd read about some of those events in British and American history books, but the Chinese perspective is (naturally) very different! General tone seemed to lump most foreigners together without drawing much distinction between imperialists (except the Japanese who were particularly nasty).


Like I said, I don't know how much the Military Museum mirrors the view of history taught in schools, but I'm willing to bet that it's closer to how Chinese kids learn about WWII than Western textbooks are.

*You can find memorials in Liaoning showing how long they were under Japanese rule until liberated by the PLA — most of a generation.

**Imagine Israel's reaction to learning Josef Mengele had been granted immunity by the Americans in exchange for medical data from his experiments.

***Imagine the Loyalists in Canada claiming to be the legitimate government of the US, with the backing of the old Soviet Union which has nuclear missiles in Cuba and a battle fleet in the Caribbean.

17:

"**Imagine Israel's reaction to learning Josef Mengele had been granted immunity by the Americans in exchange for medical data from his experiments."

Operation PAPERCLIP

18:

> How on earth is history taught wherever they come from?

There are Nazi cosplays in Baltic countries and Western Ukraine all the time. Unlike Chinese they supposedly know very well what happened about 70 years ago. No weddings though, as far as I am aware.

An example: http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=228765

19:

What about when aspiring politicians can't resist the oh-so-stylish garments of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking? Here in the U.S. it turns out that Rich Iott, a candidate for the 2010 congressional elections, liked to attend "re-enactment" gatherings dressed as an SS officer. Need I mention that he's a Republican?

For an added bonus, guess how many other Republicans criticized his choices?

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That would be ZERO.

20:

While I am happy to agree that I consider *ALL* WW2 re-enactors to be in exceptionally poor taste; attempting to imply that those who re-enact German (or even specifically SS) units are closet Nazi's themselves is a huge and unfounded leap.

I think re-enacting any period while people from it are still alive is just in poor taste. (and that applies regardless of the army; war is not nice and every side in pretty much every war did reprehensible things, all that varies is the degree of barbarity and the victims)

As for a general grasp of history, forget it. The public education system in the US is pathetic overall and especially so on history. If you live in an area with an active Jewish population then the holocaust will be highlighted constantly; if not you probably don't even know who fought in the war.

21:

The original page in Chinese: http://tt.mop.com/read_10107025_1_0.html

Personally I don't think this is a big deal, this is China we're talking about, more than 1 billion people, there bound to be oddities among them.

Historically there were always Nazi/Germany sympathizers in China, besides the obvious point that China never experienced the Nazi terror, there's also the fact that Germany (before and after Nazi took power, up to 1937) was a major weapon supplier to China's nationalist government during the war against Japanese invasion. There were German military advisors in the nationalist army, and the divisions fully equipped with German weapons and trained by German advisors were the elite force used in Battle of Shanghai.

22:

As for a general grasp of history, forget it. The public education system in the US is pathetic overall and especially so on history.

In the 60s and 70s many times you never made it to WWII except that you covered from about 1930 or 1940 to present day during the last week. When everyone was itching for summer break to start.

And if you asked most people in the US where the most lives were lost in fighting in WWII they would likely think in France from June 1944 till spring 1945 if they could think at all. The German/Soviet front is mostly an abstraction to them. If I could summarize what most people in the US think about WWII it is Hitler, Pearl Harbor, D Day, Iwo Jima, Hiroshima. And now maybe Midway and N. Africa due to the movies Midway and Patton. I'm sure that history buffs and our overseas friends will notice a few gaps.

I remember when the movie the "The Last Emperor" came out and friends were commenting about not knowing about Japan invading Manchuria.

23:

As to the German regular army being the practically-nearly-almost good guys and the SS the bad guys - especially in north Africa under the chivalric Rommel -
"In 1942, German troops fighting the Allies in North Africa occupied the Jewish quarter of Benghazi, plundering shops and deporting more than 2,000 Jews across the desert. Sent to work in labor camps, more than one-fifth of this group of Jews perished."

More generally, the German generals were fully complicit in just about every German war crime, and the whitewash they self-administered after the war shouldn't be allowed to conceal that.

24:

This might just go to show that what horrifies or causes revulsion isn't necessarily due to your rational assessment of it, but of hearing "This is bad, this is bad, this is bad" a sufficient number of times.

Flipside- if you saw a wedding in the US or Europe featuring people dressed as WWII-era Japanese military, would there be such a fuss?
On the other hand, try that in China...

Personal case in point- I grew up fairly near the site of Camp Sumter- aka Andersonville Prison Camp, where about 13,000 Union prisoners either were shot/starved/died of disease during the Civil War.
Once a year comes the Andersonville Historic Fair. Gloomy morose remembrance? Nope. From the website: "Hundreds of costumed militia-men and their families recreate a Civil War encampment and re-enact skirmishes and battles.
In the adjacent areas, an arts & crafts and antiques festival offers an amazing array of everything from hand-woven baskets to babydolls, southern gospel to bluegrass, knives to knick-knacks, and balladeers to beauty pageants. The aromas of funnel cake, kettlecorn and bar-b-que tantalize the most fervid of dieters."

There is not a bagel n' blintz stand at Auschwitz. What is horror varies heavily by culture.

25:

Under the ever expansive definition of war crimes there are no military actions which will not be marked as such by someone. WWII was brutal in most every theater. The non SS troops much less so than the SS ones. But how is the German treatment of Jews in situations like Benghazi all that different than how the US and UK treated the locals in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific?

I'm putting the holocaust in a separate category here.

26:

Yes! The kuomintang/Chiang Kai Shek had a lot of help from Germany in the 30s.

I was always stunned by the visual fact that his troops wore what looked like nazi uniforms a bit, given the same helmets the same greatcoats (could not find the greatcoats on the Web) and many of the same small arms.

http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?/topic/6638-chinese-army-uniforms-ww2/

I wonder if there is some kind of link with that 30s connection.

27:

I'd like to think that real Nazis, or even real neo-Nazis, would have ten kinds of racial catfit, and collapse choking dangerously on their breakfast sausage. But I very much fear they'd merely grab the implied compliment and run, the imitators being beyond the casual swing of a jolly jackboot. (Of course the common ruck want to ape the supermen: this just proves how totally über they are, blah blah, usw.)

28:

Is there some reason my post with URLs in it has not appeared?

29:

Plenty of Nazi cosplay in Hong Kong; out here you see it mostly amongst the airsoft/paintball community, although a friend of mine happened upon a whole bunch of Chinese guys in SS uniforms having a picnic on Mount Butler last year.

(A greatcoat and lots of black clothing isn't the most practical garb in the heat and humidity here, but that almost goes without saying.)

Then again, fashions come and go in Hong Kong; there's also a whole bunch that think it's perfectly fine to dress up in Desert Storm II fatigues, and I think it's also fairly offensive to be dressing up and playing at soldiers in a war that's ongoing or recently finished. But there's also the Indians who think Mein Kampf is a good book to read (what a strong leader that Mr Hitler was), there's the Mongolian neo-Nazis ... racist, nationalist thugs pop up all over the place.

Nazis helping out the KMT in the 30s wouldn't be a great reason for most people in the PRC to be fans, though.

30:

Time, distance and culture.

The nazis are a historical group from a different culture to these young people. The emotional impact of those uniforms is just not there for them.

When I got married my wife and I were heavily into ECW/Dark Age re-enactments (Sealed Knot and Viking, don't laugh, people paid to see us!) and although the main event was in "normal" clothing. We had people in Viking and New Model army gear at the reception.

How would that have looked to an anglo-saxon peasant or royalist foot soldier?

Time, distance and culture. Those uniforms mean bugger-all to those kids apart from that they look good.

31:

This is sometimes a difficult issue. I think WWII cosplaying isn't very thoughtful, especially using Nazi Germans, but I could imagine a live action roleplaying game where some of the characters would be Nazis, and I can see myself playing in a game like that. All depending on who arranged the game and what the style would be, of course.

Also a tabletop roleplaying game could be ok, but that's even more intimate and would involve closer friends.

Mostly doing cosplay in Nazi uniforms is bad taste, though I do understand that the history perspective is different in different places. I probably wouldn't want to cosplay any WWII things, probably because I think almost all the countries were quite a bit worse than they are now - even my native Finland. There were a lot of things at that time which I don't like.

Of course, one complication are games, again. There are a lot of computer and board games made out of WWII, and I have played them a lot. Sometimes I do get a disconnect from the game itself, for example when flying an IL-2 Sturmovik shooting at German soldiers: I wouldn't be on any of the sides in real life, really. As a technical thing, yes, but if I do add more context in the game (in my own head) it gets somewhat difficult.

It's easier to move cardboard pieces on a map and not think that they are marking German and Soviet soldiers near Moscow.

Also, one anecdote from this year's Ropecon: a German friend of mine spotted some Nazi uniforms a couple of times. He doesn't like Nazis so he went and asked what the hell was going on. The guys promoting Iron Sky got an ok from him, but one guy in an German uniform didn't really get why it would be seen as very much not ok by anybody.

32:

(aside from the fact that I find the idea of ANYONE emulating the Nazis, of course) I think turnabout is fair play. We (Americans and our cultural cohort) have been gleefully appropriating other people's history for the past two centuries. They've been doing the same to us, of course, it's just that until recently, we haven't noticed. Look at Chikamatsu's The Battles of Coxinga, an 18th-century work in which a Japanese warrior conquers China with the help of a hilarious cadre of bumbling bumbling Southeast Asians (named the equivalent of "the Siam guy" the "Jakarta guy" the "the English guy.") What, didn't you know England was part of South-East Asia?

These are the dangers of a society that knows a little, but not enough, about its source material. Everyone does it.

33:

dirk bruere, the moderation policy here clearly states that posts with more than one URL are moderated, so it's probably that.

34:

Arguably O/T, but arguably not since we're discussing cultural linkages:-
1) Anything I learnt about WW1 was from family or off my own bat rather than from history classes.
2) The closest I come to having a family link to Gallipoli is that one of my great-great-uncles was paid off in 1913 from one of the RN battleships that did fire support for the landings.
3) The above notwithstanding, "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle still raises the hairs on the back of my neck, and brings a tear to my eye.

35:

Alexy Goldin @ 17
Well, the history of the Eastern Baltic states approx 1935-89 is very messy.
Even now, many people there regard the nazis as at least possibly the lesser evil, compared to the NKVD.
"So, a few jews got murdered - who cares - what about the rest of us who (just) survived the gulag ?"- seems to be the attitude.
There were NO good choices available, as far as I can see.

C @ 23
Eric Bogle notwithstanding, there are quite a few 14th Army / Burma Railway survivors still around.
Such a glorification of the warped form of the Bushido ethos would be almost garuanteed to start a serious fight, and I mean a fight - you'd get the young idiots being physically attacked by raging 85-year-olds. And they'd deserve it.

36:

Y'know, this probably explains a great deal of warfare- someone born nearly twenty years after the Nazi government fell gets upset because people born on the other side of the planet born perhaps forty+ years after the Nazi government fell played dress-up.

We assume that remembering the past is a good thing. What if it's not?

37:

You're attributing an over-simplified response to me. Please desist.

Consider that, yes, the groom is wearing Hugo Boss: there's a taste element at work here. Consider also that other folks' history makes for the best dress-up experience. And consider the real Nazi response to those photos would probably be one of rage -- what are those subhumans doing in our elite forces uniform?!

But next, take it a step further. Who are folks in the early 22nd century going to play dress-up as? Specifically from the 1945-2010 era?

38:

"And to be fair, they weren't. They did many bad things, and some good things, like a lot of governments. On the whole they weren't a very nice one, but our cultural outrage at them has got less to do with what they did, and more to do with the fact that they did it to us."

I find this in a few of the comments and I don't think you and the others really understand why nazis are considered different. What still horrifies many people to this day is their single minded pursuit of, and application of modern technology to, organized genocide.

Contrast WWI with WWII. Sure it's been a bit longer, but even though the Germans were blamed heavily in the aftermath, we don't really see German soldiers in WWI as "evil". Just poor lugs on either side in a pointless war. Not so in WWII where the memory of the holocaust (especially with the absolute horror that the West went through when people realised just how far they'd gone) has completely changed everything.

If you really don't get where this is all coming from, you really should go and visit Auschwitz someday. Sometimes you need a kick in the nuts to understand just where our historical perspective is coming from.

Now, to be fair to you and the Chinese, my history teacher also kind of glossed over the Japanese atrocities in China, making it feel like little more than a footnote. So there's definitely context in which I would say these people simply don't know the cultural import of what they're wearing. That doesn't make it okay though.

39:

As a German, when you travel internationally and come into casual contact with the locals, the topic of the Nazis and Germany's role in the world war comes up quite often. From many such occasions I have found that the perception of this time is always seen through the local history. As a result the world seems to be divided in zones:
1) The Western world, which includes Western Europe, the USA, Australia, Israel and Germany; the later two of course with their own very special point of view, but generally similar to the rest of the world. In this zone Nazi Germany is considered Evil Incarnate, mostly for the Holocaust, which relegates even the aggressive warmongering to second place.
2) Most of Eastern Europe, especially Russia and Poland, where it is as strongly detested, but with emphasis on the Great War.
3) Countries, which historically have been under real or considered oppression by one of the allied nations. This includes the Baltic states, most of Africa, and large parts of the Middle East. The war is actually seen a plus in this regions, as it was waged against Russia, England, or France, respectively. The Holocaust does not factor much into public perception, as it was far away and did not have anything to do with the locals. In some regions it is actually and sadly considered a bonus, German travelers in these regions are generally greeted very friendly, which is nice. Less nice is being congratulated on the great deeds of Hitler. Personally this happened to me in Morocco, in Ghana, and in Japan.
4) Japan, as a former ally of Nazi Germany and with very longstanding relations to Germany, is an odd mixture of case 1 and 3.
5) China, where this pictures probably were taken, is mostly concerned with Japan, America, and England as its enemies. My experience is that both WW2 and the Holocaust atrocities are considered as localized events far away, and as pretty small-scale by Chinese standards. Nazi Germany simply is not considered relevant. What remains is the coolness factor common to all ruthless mass murderers.
4) I do not know where India, South-East Asia, and South and Central America are located in these scheme. I did not travel these regions much, and the topic never came up.

40:

Good question. If I had to guess, it'd be determined by one of two factors- snazziness of the outfits or nostalgia for something we are perceived to have done.

Why do so many people consider pseudo-Victoriana to be neat? Or so many re-enact the US Civil War in costume, but so few re-enact WWI? And what's with the middle age dress-up?

At a guess, what's a defining genre of literature from the 1945-2010 years(or maybe film, but film leaves less room for subjective interpretation of style) that will make people of a century hence nostalgic for the "coolness" of us, or will address some poorly-defined psychological need?

41:

Victoriana - No idea.
ACW - False idea that it was some sort of "chivalric war" about one or both of the emancipation of slaves and the right of a state to cecede from the Union?
WW1 - Fairly accurate idea that it was a bloody (literal sense) mudbath.
WW2 - Vaguely accurate idea that it was "cleaner" and "mechanised"?

42:

paw4thot
WW2 "cleaner"?
Not in the aforementioned 14th Army it wasn't.
Nor across the Pacific island-hopping campaign it wasn't.
Jap atrocities in the Philippines are often glossed over on this side of the planet as well .....

43:

It's some pretty selective memory, though- in WWI, a heavily-involved European country might have lost 2-5% of its population. Compare that with the 20-50% death figures from the Black Plague...and the other muddy bloodbaths, military or not of the era.

But "I want to slog through the mud dressed as a medieval peasant" wins over "I want to slog through the mud dressed as a doughboy." Odd.

44:

The USA was only in the war for about 18 months and lost fewer dead/wounded during WW1 than Serbia.

In contrast, 20% of the male population of France was killed or wounded in action -- a level that dwarfs the US civil war, or indeed any non-colonial 19th century conflict except possibly the War of the Triple Alliance -- and it was fought with mass conscript armies. The trauma of that war brought down empires: I find it unsurprising that nobody is particularly nostalgic for it.

45:

Unfortunately, this does make it start to sound like it _is_ just a matter of snappy uniforms that spark nostalgia. Unless WWI suffers from living in the shadow of WWII- why dress up in a pickelhaube when jackboots have a more menacing association?

46:

The soldiers al most of their defendants for at least 2 generations are all dead. 4 or 5 generations for most. Plus most of the badly wounded did not come home. So it is easier to play as if it wasn't a horror show. But reading some of the accounts where troops were fighting on a battlefield from 6 months earlier and the soldiers were triping over the bones in the mud from the earlier engagement says a lot. And during the last year it was turning into WWI trench warfare as the precursors to the weapons if WWI were starting to be deployed.

There's an annual re-enactment near here that my wife used to want to attend until I made it clear I had no interest in such things. Although I do like a good war movie. Not sure how to reconcile the two things.

And here in the US there is a feeling that we showed up and won the war. When the truth is more that we allowed the winners to hold there ground on until tanks were able to be deployed and Germany ran out of food and troops from areas other than the western front got fed up and just quit.

Also re-enactors like to deal with grand battles with decisive victories and defeats. WWI didn't have much of that.

47:

#42 thro #44 - Charlie's made one of my main points about WW1 and 2 (European death rates). The other was that WW2 was less of a mudbath. I also said that the ACW was falsely perceived; mass conscription, and one of the earlier and more famous wars to actually use trench warfare and artillery on a big scale (usually mis-represented in films and "re-enactments").

Expanding on the mudbath point, who actually does "medievil peasant in the fields" rather than "chivalric knight or lady"?

48:

Being a UK re-enactor of medieval and Tudor times, this problem doesn't come up.
However, anecdotal evidence from a number of friends and aquaintances over the years is that a disturbingly high number of those who re-enact SS soldiers are in fact Nazi's. They mostly keep quiet about it, but the stuff people have witnessed (which I'm not going to go into on a public forum) does indicate that quite a number of modern nazis or Hitler worshippers are drawn to that side of the hobby.

49:

I have just remembered that Chiang Kai-Shek actually had Nazi military advisers. None other than Hans von Seeckt, the re-founder of the German army after Versailles, headed the mission with von Falkenhorst as his chief of staff. They planned the Ninth Bandit Extermination Campaign that forced the Communists to make the Long March, but unsurprisingly they didn't have a solution to the Japanese and were quietly withdrawn before the obvious diplomatic problems of having the former head of your army acting as shadow-commander in chief against one of your allies got out of hand.

50:

More people than you'd think, but fewer than is accurate.
Plus despite some exceptions, re-enactment in the UK is predicated about entertaining the public with a big spectacle. Watching someone plough a field with some oxen is considered a bit dull.

If you want domestic life, go to Kentwell Hall in Suffolk, which does Tudor re-creations. There's some medieval domestic stuff in the Merchants hall in York, and a number of groups in medieval and Tudor concentrate on the domestic side rather than the fighting.
Myself, I do bronze and pewter casting and alchemy.

51:

Leaping on Charlie's latest comment; I think that Cosplay and re-enacting are here to stay. I see no reason why there will not continue to be a 'fringe' of society that engages in that sort of thing into the 22nd century+. I doubt it will reach the levels of historical re-enactment communes of several Sci-fi writings, but it will be around.

52:

#48 Para 2 - I've no real experience of re-enactors or living history in that period, but the same is true of WW2 wargamers who habitually play German forces. Still, at least we know where to look for them if necessary.

#50 Sentence 1 - Should that read "at least an order of magnitude fewer"?

53:

On the topic of future re-enactments:

We're already seeing Gulf war 1 re-enactment. Some of this is driven by the WALT-ish desire of some of the participants. Others don't have the hang ups that some of us do about doing period where people involved are still very much alive.

Many people have joked about doing Miners strike re-enactments. If the current coalition government, with their desire to destroy the welfare state by reducing expenditure and contracting the rest out to their pals in private companies (who as profit maximising entities in a non-market sector will squeeze out payments to the poor and indigent and ramp up those to executives and shareholders) cause massive demonstrations and riots, in a century we may see a re-enactment of them.

The key point is that whatever is re-enacted has to be seen as seminal and a turning point. A good example - the battle of Bosworth. Or the Armada. Or indeed the miners strike.

But that is re-enactment. In the meantime, people will do cosplay of absolutely anything they find attractive, no matter what connotations it has for anyone else. Or how impractical, e.g. chain maille bikinis.

54:

There should also be a distinction made between people who re-enact normal German army units and those who do SS. There seems to be a strange imbalance in that there's more SS units compared to normal units than seems entirely realistic...


Has cosplay reached mainstream standards in Japan?

55:

Para 1 - That's probably true, but the real issue is thet we're seeing a parallel in "other interests" of re-enactors and wargamers? I would observe that there doesn't seem to be a similar parallel with modelmakers, but even the Wehrmacht tank modellers are more interested in $new_subtype/colour_scheme than in whether the vehicle has an SS or WH registration.

Para 2 - Enough so that there have been Animes made about Japanese cosplay. Over to people who've actually been to Japan for further detail.

56:

I'd say that this is basically a case of European oversensitivity. Were Asian people anti-semitic in the war? It turns out not really even when they had the chance, as this article illustrates:

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005283
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Kobe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampei_Photography_Club

As the article then points out, the last handful of Jewish people without anywhere to go in 1941 actually got sent to Shanghai, which reading J.G. Ballard, was somewhere that was hardly pleasant but which as a white person, you could survive provided you didn't do anything too reckless.

There is also this place. Note it's location, right on the Chinese border, which the Chinese have nothing to say about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birobidzhan

...So it's nothing really. I'm pretty sure that this series has been broadcast in Hong Kong, which if it is true is probably a bigger influence upon many people than western-orientated history books probably are:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hfHyDSTX50

Let's just say that this has certainly gotten their wedding noticed.

57:

Is it actually oversensitive to say "It is wrong to kill my neighbour because he goes to a different "church" from me"?

58:

India is a strong case of 3.

59:

I get the impression that there isn't. of course perhaps decades ago your only outlet for your secret desire that Hitler had won was painting up lots of Tiger tanks, whereas nowadays you can waltz around in an SS uniform and point to the autobahns and so on and say Germany wasn't all that bad.

I just remembered - I have read of Korean war re-enactment, and there's also Vietnam war re-enactment, albeit on a small scale. Both were important in various ways to a lot of countries across the world.

Possibly some of the reasons you don't see so much WW1 re-enactment include:
1) people don't like letting you dig their field up and turn it into a trench system.
2) living in a trench system isn't so much fun, even if it is for 7 hours a day.
3) The sheer nastiness and futility of parts of the war just don't appeal to so many people.
4) lack of toys - yes they had airplanes, artillery machine guns and later on, tanks, but there just weren't so much and they are harder to re-create or get your hands on them.

But that said I have seen small scale trenches done, and also simple show and tell demo's where people in uniform stand around with a couple of rifles and talk about them and what they would have done in the war.

60:

My brother's father-in-law was, once upon a time, a Panzer commander, and there's no indication that he was an awful character, so that I'd find it interesting to see him in uniform.

Horrid characters are really rare -- and the ones who are, tend to be quite capable of hiding it. Society has been a machine (despite Krugman) for quite a while now.

In fact it seems that the problem is much more the non-awful characters than the awful characters, given the fact that the former outnumber the latter by so much.

"It's not personal" is the problem.

61:

FWIW most of the Chinese comments seem to be giving the couple grief over their choice of attire, google translation isn't very accurate but I think the following are easy to interpret:

-The quality of the German military to admit that the behavior of the Nazis to be completely negative, simply because there is no aggression to China, the landlord on such high-profile play cos it? You go to Germany to try to do this? The Kwantung Army in China is like wearing a wedding garment according to it, is how West Germany's first prime minister of this behavior, you can go and see

-If one day LZ photo was spread to Europe, please do not say is the Chinese people LZ

-I really do not know how to describe the couple, and say that you brain damage it, take a look at this age should not, and say that you 213 it, was rather an insult to the meaning of 213. Was, finally, I do not describe you, you wish you: The man is always a virgin, woman is always a virgin, go out in a car accident, had an electric shower, you offspring born, male slaves for generations, female D generations into prostitution.

-LZ you know? Nazi party Guards killed many Jews it? 6 million Jews to see you this is no different to the Chinese people in front of Japanese military officers to wear clothes

-Just before watching "Schindler's List" to see the proposed LZ you will find how ignorant you are

-Do not say that the Chinese people, really. Chinese people's reputation in the world in general have been, you would not undermine the

-Silly than, you know what fascism it?
Do not know, then go back and ask your grandmother and your grandmother, your family or your real mother of all women, when they were unhappy Japanese devils cool grass.
Silly than, I wish you health or unrepeatable not children, or children not asshole children.
By the way, you young married woman than you longer than silly, really silly than a pair of children.

On a related note, I seem to remember people being surprised at the popularity of a Call of Duty game set in the pacific theatre among the Japanese gamers, particularly because it required them to shoot at their virtual grandparents.

62:

I suspect it's also taught at one remove because if we're honest, we know full well our leaders probably agreed with the Nazis on at least some matters of racist policy (this is the country which had a "White Australia" immigration policy for the first three-quarters of a century of our existence, after all - we don't have a moral leg to stand on).

But it's not in the US -- even though US attitudes were little different than Germany's within our borders. I doubt that has an effect -- it's much too easy to simply memory-hole the past to avoid those issues.

US segregation laws were as severe as the Nuremburg laws, and they lasted until the late '60s. Eugenics laws were not eliminated from states until the late '70s.

The basics of Nazi ideology, adapted to local conditions, were pretty universal in the developed world. It was racism, Taylorism, mass mobilization and "scientificism" across the planet (check out the history of the disease of "Hospitalism" to see how deeply ingrained pseudo-scientific reduction of humans to machinery was).

Everyone but the Germans have been pretty good at burying that reality -- a reality that was only rejected in part after seeing what the logical consequences of that culture was.

63:

As a bonus, there's a few photos floating around of actual WWII Koreans in wehrmacht uniforms, apparently a group was conscripted by the Japanese, captured by the soviets, then liberated by the Germans and conscripted again so they ended up captured by Americans on D-day, on the other side of the world.

So Asians in WWII German uniforms... not quite such a stretch as it turns out, accuracy wise.

64:

The need "to shoot at your virtual grandparents" certainly did not stop us from fragging the Nazi guards in "Wolfenstein 3D". The only thing bothering us at that time was that the game was officially banned in Germany.

65:

> What were they thinking?

They were playing dress-up at a private function. From the article, I don't see that they were making a political statement.

It's their own business, and none of mine.

66:

I suspect that Nazi cosplay is fairly common all over. Knowing what WWII Nazi uniforms (both original and reproductions of all quality levels) cost tells you something about the market, and tells you that the vast majority isn't going to neo-nazis. Collectors like things that seem rare, and things that seem culturally dangerous (partly because such things end up being fairly rare, or seeming rare even if they aren't -- the market in replica SS uniforms is like that of the market in pot, insomuch as nobody knows what the going price is in a very general sense because it's considered socially and/or legally dangerous to advertise that you are looking for one, so the prices can be ramped up based on the assumption that they are far more rare than they appear). Dangerous is sexy, and potentially offensive is sexy -- and I can't but say that I suspect Nazi uniforms in China probably inhabit the sweet spot that Ozzy Osbourne and later Marilyn Manson inhabited, of seeming offensive enough to be desirable to emulate but not so offensive that one could reasonably expect stigma for it.

67:

Greg, my native city of Lviv (Ukraine) had dubious honor of hosting two Nazi concentration camps where more then 400000 humans being were murdered, which was by far more then city population in wartime. NKVD did not get close within order of magnitude. There is not a single sign commemorating those victims, but hundreds of monuments and signs commemorating NKVD victims (not only in Lviv but in all nearby villages). I guess because most of the killed in concentration camps were local and foreign Jews, Soviet POWs and other "not our people" (including sometimes French resistance fighters, Spanish antifascists, etc). Yes, local history is quite complex, but this explanation is not enough.

If you think about it Germans suffered much more from Soviet troops then from Nazis, much more then Western Ukrainians. But it is quite unthinkable to see similar Nazi celebrations in Germany.

As for Chineese wedding -- well, war in Europe is quite removed from them culturally. This is a bad taste but not so much as if it happened anywhere in Europe. China had its own war and it was quite full of its own horrors.

68:

just reading a book, ' the nazis, a warning fron history'
very interesting.
we're presented with this image of the Nazi party as a sort of external parasite on the German state of the time.
its not true, they really did have massive support from the people.
of course, if they had actually won the war all those atrocities would have been unrecorded in the annals of history- much as our atrocities go unremarked

69:

"dirk bruere, the moderation policy here clearly states that posts with more than one URL are moderated, so it's probably that."

So what does that mean, given its been more than 12 hours since it was submitted? How long does it take to moderate? Is there a rejection notice? Do things get lost? Is "moderation" a euphemism for "delete"?

70:

Posts with certain keywords or more than 1 URL are automatically held for moderation (by the blog software). Then they get released when a human being gets around to checking -- usually within 2-3 days, if I'm not distracted.

When a held posting is released it then shows up in the discussion at the time when it was posted -- i.e. a long way back from the current comment. (I'm pretty sure I unmoderated your comment this morning, but it was before I had my first pint of tea ...)

71:

Anti-Semitism is a peculiarly European invention.

Jews, Muslims, and middle-eastern Christians used to get along reasonably well, for centuries.

Anti-Semitism was unknown in eastern Asia until the Jesuits came along, and found their favorite scapegoat already there. In Japan it led into a type of philo-semitism, based on false ideas about Jews being good in business, and a model to emulate. See the supposed Fugu Plan.

Birobidzhan doesn't really figure in, as it was Stalin's attempt to get the Jews as far away as possible, before deciding that that was too much trouble.

72:

"Jews, Muslims, and middle-eastern Christians used to get along reasonably well, for centuries."

Possibly because they were all native to the region, and more importantly, perceived to be so. The Jews in Europe have always been seen as outsiders, despite most of them actually being Khazars

73:

Dirk, you should know that the Khazar origin myth has been proven to be wrong.

74:

The key point is that whatever is re-enacted has to be seen as seminal and a turning point. A good example - the battle of Bosworth. Or the Armada. Or indeed the miners strike.

I would guess that no one's going to be re-enacting the Armada any time soon, for one obvious reason...

75:

Perhaps they got along because they were neighbors, however there were thousands of Jews living in Jerusalem prior to 1948, many of Ashkenazic origin.

The idea of Ashkenazim being of Khazar descent is highly debatable, and beside the point, they still weren't European.

From the Wikipedia article:
The theory that all or most Ashkenazi Jews might be descended from Khazars dates back to the racial studies of late 19th century Europe, and was frequently cited to assert that most modern Jews are not descended from Israelites and/or to refute Israeli claims to Israel. etc.

77:

In which case the "outsider" view of Jews in Europe is considerably strengthened.

78:

My Grandfather " Joined UP with the Durham Light Infantry in the opening phase of The ' War To End All Wars ' AT one of those Music Hall 'We Don't Want To Lose You But we Think YOU ought to go, for Your King and Your Country Do NEED you SO ' events that were so typical of the time ...

http://www.firstworldwar.com/audio/yourkingandcountrywantyou.htm

And he fought through till the end so I could be called a statistical anomaly given the casualty rate in the 'PALS' and similar such units of the Army ...

http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm


My Grandfather received a small ...very small, and not index linked ..pension for injuries caused by GAS during WW 1 but never the less did survive until his late 70s when he died due ..I'm pretty sure in retrospect .. to hypothermia in his icy cold bedroom one week before he was due to move to a Warm centrally heated flat that was provided, not by a Nation Grateful to its Heroes, but rather to the D.L.I. s charitable institution and a local sheltered accommodation " Lord Gort Close " that was provided by the same.

Ah well, nothing new since Kipling wrote "It's Tommy this, and Tommy that, And chuck him out the brute,
But it's 'Savior of his Country,' When the guns begin to shoot!
- Rudyard Kipling ..... or any Kipling it would seem ...


http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/9080533._I_wrote_to_David_Cameron_to_ask_for_higher_wages_for_my_hero_dad_/

79:

WWI is was a war without a "coolness factor". That was the war that defined "trench warfare", and where artillery started it's climb to dominance.

The only thing about WWI that had any "coolness" was the airplanes. Maybe the blimps. There's just nothing cool about suffering in a cold wet ditch for months on end. And the innovation of barbed wire made it so you couldn't even conduct a "noble and valiant charge", such as that glorified in "The Charge of the Light Brigade". (Somehow stupid and "cool" aren't antithetical, but miserable and cool are.)

80:

Robert @ 16: "***Imagine the Loyalists in Canada claiming to be the legitimate government of the US,"

That would be my Nana.

81:

Things are very different now with the mixing in Europe.
My father was South African and came over pre-war to join the British army. His own father did not talk to him for 20 years because of that betrayal - the British crimes against the Afrikaners in the Boer War were still well within living memory. Anyway, he ended up an intelligence officer and one of the group surrounding the captured Himmler.
My other half, Fiona, has a Scottish father and German mother. Her maternal grandfather fought at Stalingrad, was wounded, and was on the last plane out. My long ago ex is Polish/Latvian. She had relatives who fought for the Russians, an uncle in the SS and her mother met her father in a German forced labour camp.

82:

I think WW1 was pretty cool.
Just been watching some newsreel from the time:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtpjD-biH5U

83:

' Re-enactment is as Re-enactment does, and not many Re enactment societies/clubs can afford Cavalry ... or properly tailored uniforms if it come to that ...


" A few months after Brudenell took over, the 11th returned from India with only 224 fit men. Through his efforts and high expenditure the regiment was brought up to strength and mounted on the best horses. They were also armed with the new percussion carbines and brilliantly turned out. Being a smart unit and being based in Kent they were the ideal choice to escort the dashing German Prince Albert from Dover when he arrived in England to marry Victoria. They also formed part of the escort on their wedding day. Albert was so impressed that he adopted the 11th as his own regiment and the Queen directed that they convert to hussars. The new title became the 11th (or Prince Albert's Own) Hussars.

The new uniform consisted of a fur busby with crimson bag, blue dolman and pelisse and crimson trousers with double yellow stripes. The colour of the trousers, adopted from the Saxe-Coburg livery, was described as cherry and Lord Cardigan referred to his men as Cherry-Bums. This fitted very well with the dubious regimental nickname of 'Cherrypickers' which had been acquired in the Peninsula when a troop of the 11th had been forced to hide in cherry trees to avoid the French. "


http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/britishcavalry/11thhussars.htm


Nazi Chicks ..oops beg their pardon .. chique ? Phooey ..simples by comparison with 18th century dress uniforms ...


http://www.militaryheritage.com/crimean.htm


one of the ladies outfits on the nazi chique site is complimented by modern platform soled boots ..oh, Come On ! I'm not a costume fan but I can recognise that with a little effort she could have done better.

Still, the Nazi chique stuff does owe rather more to the film " Cabaret " by way of " Salon Kitty " that it does to military re-enactment. See here ...

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=salon+kitty&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=fV4&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=IgJpTs-gOMa98gPM38nxCw&ved=0CDYQsAQ&biw=1600&bih=965


84:

Considering the prevalence of WW1 vs WW2 cosplay:

It all depends on the place where you live. For example, here in Serbia, it is much more socially acceptable to dress up in WW1 period uniforms than the WW2 period ones.

The WW1 Serbian Army is remembered as a superb fighting force that took on multiple empires and won, liberating (or conquering, in an alternate interpretation) the South Slavs.

The WW2 Yugoslav Army fell apart in a matter of weeks, and the resistance movements that continued the fight - Communist Partizans and Royalist Chetniks - used most of their time and energy fighting each other (up to and including massacring the opponent's civilian supporters).

Long story short, around here, WW1 was a time of
- clear-cut good guys and bad guys
- decisive battles on a moving front
- a generally agreed happy ending
Old communist / New royalist propaganda notwithstanding, WW2 was nothing of the sort.

85:

Alexy Goldin @ 67
That would be Lvov/Lemberg, then?
That part of the world, that was in Austria-Hungary pre WWI and in Poland/what is now called Belorussia and parts (all of?) Ukraine got really hammered in WWII.
I'm given to understand that the civilian death-rate was the worst anywhere (in Europe) - even worse than parts of Yogoslavia.
At least you're not across the border, with the wonderful democratic government of Lukashenko .....

86:

Salon Kitty meets Hello Kitty?

87:

Wish that I'd thought of that!

88:

Greg @85:
That's a pretty large piece of real estate you're talking about here. For the Nazis it was space for expansion (and later retreat), for the USSR it was expendable territory.

I suspect humans living in that region didn't enter into the equation at all.

89:

> That would be Lvov/Lemberg, then?

Yes.

Death rate in Western Ukraine was actually much less then in Eastern Ukraine or Belarus. In fact the status of Western Ukrainian lands was quite different from status of the rest of occupied Ukraine/Belarus/Russia. Maybe this explains love for the Nazis a bit. There were no major battles, and occupying regime was softer (except for Jews who made a huge part of population before WW2).

> At least you're not across the border, with the wonderful democratic government of Lukashenko .....

Lukashenko is certainly not democratic, but rumours about his blood thirstiness are somewhat over the top. He is not Ghandi, but he is not a modern incarnation of Stalin either. Everyday life in Belarus seems to be quite more comfortable then in democratic Ukraine according to my impressions. Why? Here is an explanation:

http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&ctype=l&strail=false&nselm=h&met_y=ny_gnp_pcap_pp_cd&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:UKR:BLR&ifdim=country&tdim=true&tstart=-293914800000&tend=1283922000000&icfg&iconSize=0.5&uniSize=0.035

(you have to remember that Western Ukraine is one of the more poor regions).

Also check Belarus and Ukraine in Doing Business ranking (google it up, if I insert one more URL this message might get labeled as spam).

90:

Not sure if my Dad would recognize New Model Army gear if he saw it, but in our Irish-American home, the name of the most famous of the generals of the New Model Army can still not be said.

91:

I understand that they did in fact get rotated out of the trenches on a regular basis, assuming some balloon had not gone up. I can't recall the timing, but it was something like a week or 12 days in the trenches, followed by something similar behind the lines.

92:

Jews, Muslims, and middle-eastern Christians used to get along reasonably well, for centuries.

I think this is true mostly when one of these groups is in charge and the others agree to second class status. Christians in Egypt being the current example.

In the US blacks were mostly left alone if they stayed in "their place" for many years.

And if you study the history of NYC after the ACW you see a constant changing of who is getting along as long as they agree to be on bottom depending on who was the majority in the last immigration wave.

93:

> At least you're not across the border, with the wonderful democratic government of Lukashenko ....

And, BTW, currently I am comfortably in Chicago.

94:

guthrie @90:
That sounds like something someone who has never spent a single second in a hole in the ground would say. Believe me, the worst wettest, muddiest, cold-to-the-bonest fortnight camping trip you ever had is paradise compared to a single day in the coziest wood reinforced earth bunker you're ever going to find (never mind ever sliding mud bunkers that used to be the order of the day in WW1). Try it for a day or two, if you are a reserve officer they just might let you.

Unless you dug one of these pits yourself, in which case you know that simply keeling over and losing consciousness where you squat is preferable to going to sleep there.

95:

Standing with your feet (or more) underwater for 7 to 10 days at a time can't really be all that bad can it?

Especially when it's not a pleasant spring or fall day.

Yeah, right. A lot of soldiers lost their toes, feet, or more due to such conditions.

96:
I find this in a few of the comments and I don't think you and the others really understand why nazis are considered different. What still horrifies many people to this day is their single minded pursuit of, and application of modern technology to, organized genocide.

I don't think you or those other people know very much about the atrocities committed by governments other than the Nazis. Seriously: this is not new, or all that unusual, in history. Nor is it the most recent such incident. It's just the only one in the past few centuries where the major western nations were the victims. Organized genocide is a disturbingly common thing.

In 1994, somewhere between half a million and a million Tutsis and people with Tutsi-coloured skin were systematically rounded up and shot, stabbed, or beaten to death in Rwanda, in less than three months. For comparison, estimates indicate that Auschwitz managed about that many in a year. Around 300,000 survived; that's a slightly higher percentage killed than the Nazis managed in 3 years. Many of those survivors were raped continually and infected with HIV.

Where is the outrage?

97:

Okay, I put that badly. But after more than a millennium the Jews in Europe are as 'European' as any other group (from intermarriage*, assimilation, whatever). Any notions of "Racial Purity" are nonsense.

*Of which I am a modern example; Lithuanian Jewish, on my mother's side, South Virginia Scottish--and who know's what else, on my father's.

98:

There's a lot of Nazi Cosplay right here in Britain - re-enactors who dress up as SS tank groups for re-enactments. I'm tempted to form a SOE group (or one of George Orwell's stay-behind units) and mess up their lovingly-restored panzers. And infiltrate their set-piece "battles" with people who lie screaming at the top of their lungs while spraying fake blood all over their expensive period costumes. Maybe fling about some off-cuts from a butcher. I'm not having a go at all re-enactors here, just the SS flavour.

It occurs to me, btw that WW2 in Europe may be unique in that today the people from the countries involved are equally glad about the result. But an increasing number of people simply don't think about it. I remember one ex-girlfriend who thought there was nothing wrong in wearing a cap with a swastika badge to a fancy dress party - literally took me half an hour to talk her out of it.

I have seen one WW1 re-enactment, of a sort - a history teacher who dug an authentic regulation trench section on his school grounds and taught his class WW1 from that trench. They all passed their "O" level in that subject. I suspect he did it so he could smoke while teaching.

@paws4thot 34 - "Green Fields of France" has a similar effect on me.

@charlie, 37 - future cosplay. Today I passed a shop which sells bright orange jumpsuits, some reading "Texas Penitentiary Death Row", and others "Guantanamo Bay Cuba".

For future re-enactment, perhaps a bunch of ravers (see- the name's already dated) - could re-enact the Battle Of Luton, when a sound system was seized by the police and then seized back, despite the objections of three police forces. Not a lot of fighting, just a sort of reverse kettling operation.

Of course Australians can re-enact the biggest engagement ever fought on Australian soil - the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Brisbane , fought between American troops, Australian troops, Australian civilians and heavy-handed military police.

@guthrie, #48 - I saw a hidden camera documentary that showed a lot of this - with people stating extreme opinions that went way beyond banter.

99:

"But after more than a millennium the Jews in Europe are as 'European' as any other group (from intermarriage*, assimilation, whatever). Any notions of "Racial Purity" are nonsense."

And that's just after you pointed to a wikipedia article that identifies "Jewishness" as genetically different from the European indigenous population!

100:

No, I would not want to live in a state of Dhimmitude any more than you. This why I said Reasonably. As in: At least there was no Inquisition, or Nazis trying to kill them.

It's in the last 70, or so, years that relations have really soured between Jews and Muslims.

Sorry for getting somewhat off-topic.

101:

re asuffield

"Seriously: this is not new, or all that unusual, in history. Nor is it the most recent such incident."

Yes. Thank you for saying this.

Nazi cosplay also horrifies me.

On a similar subject, if they are of interest, a few more fail-y cosplay/theme weddings.


Hobo wedding
http://www.regretsy.com/2011/08/02/its-called-poverty-youve-probably-never-heard-of-it/

Colonial Africa
http://jezebel.com/5820577/colonial+themed-wedding-included-authentic-all+black-servant-staff

http://jezebel.com/5821657/colonial-wedding-pictures-taken-down-those-involved-apologize

The Old American South
http://www.good.is/post/why-are-people-still-having-weddings-at-plantations-slaves-built/

102:

dirk 99:
That's total bs, and everyone ought to know THAT. All they (the Nazs) ever had was suspicion and evaluation of equally suspicious records. For all we know they could have exterminated the most "aryan" people. Ridiculous, really.

103:

No, I was pointing to a Wikipedia article to call out you previous statement about Khazars as BS. And using the word Pure to mean 100%, as in there's no such thing as a 100% pure ethnic group.

Try this one out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jews#Genetic_origins

104:

The bottom line being that Jews can be identified genetically as distinct from the surrounding populations, except perhaps in the Middle East? Is that true or not? Obviously excluding recent converts to Judaism.

105:

You might have noticed I was talking about the 6 months in the trenches bit, maybe i should have been more clear.
I was at a dinner last year and recall one of the guests reading excerpts from his grandfathers diary of the war, British line regiment, spent most of the war in the trenches, and it included time away from them.

106:

If its the documentary I'm thinking of, certainly one of the more recent ones, they had to really really try to find anyone at all who would, after enough prompting, say anything silly at all, and they spent a lot of time trying to get lots of people to say something. The re-enactor community was disgusted by it.
(And we aren't a very community minded lot)

107:

guthrie @all:

Not meant to insult (a little, yes, but not badly). Seriously. Simply go there, in the trenches, and see what you think it's like.

Sorry if I offended your ...

108:

The bottom line being that Jews can be identified genetically as distinct from the surrounding populations, except perhaps in the Middle East? Is that true or not? Obviously excluding recent converts to Judaism.

The bottom line being that as much as any ethnic group is distinct from their surrounding populations, they also share DNA. Try finding a Human that doesn't share DNA with a group other than their own. Distinct doesn't mean Unrelated.
I know many converts to Judaism. Often the ones who are not doing it for marriage (and some who are) make some claim to Jewish ancestry somewhere in the family tree.


I'm done. If you want to continue this prissy bitchslap fight (which, judging by previous threads, you seem to relish) you're on your own. You 'Win'. Good for you.

109:

Erald, seeing as your comment had nothing to do with the thrust of mine, I don't see what your problem is. You havn't offended me, you've just made me think you're being a prat.

110:

james @108:
whoah, what are you?
Lieberman is not our thing. He's a racist that simply doesn't belong.

111:

In the East, much of German regular army did the same thing the SS did. But there were so many of them that for the sake of post war peace it was not talked about by the Western Allies.
The worst of Japan was in China. Someone was needed to run Japan temporally as the war time government was tried. The war time government of China was doing nothing and was put to work running Japan. After China went Commie, building up of Japan was the big thing for the new Republican govenment here. They put the China war criminals in charge of Japan for good. The party now ruling japan are those people. That government is rewriting WW-2.

112:

guthrie @109:
That's your priviledge, obviously. and I maintain I never meant to curtail or censor anybody's ideas. If I appear to do so, please feel free to comment on that, too.

113:

"If you want to continue this prissy bitchslap fight (which, judging by previous threads, you seem to relish) you're on your own."

I relish consistency in arguments.
Feel free not to respond, as stated.

114:

Sheesh, I don't know what you're on about bringing censorship and curtailment of ideas into it now, it makes no sense to me, so congratulations, you've pointlessly confused me.

115:

Was not meant to be !wonky! towards anyone.

116:

OOps.

117:

If you think someone is making a personal attack, please don't respond in kind. If you find yourself wanting to make a personal attack, please stop for a few minutes and think about what you're trying to say, and why.

118:

Never mind the Nazi stuff, I'm baffled about why someone would want to get married dressed as a character who is (warning: Chobits spoilers) unable to have sex without suffering permanent catastrophic brain damage (because she's an android with her "personality reset" button in an unusual place).

119:

You know, I live on what was the original Civil War battlefield, and we have a museum that will tell you exactly how it went. The reenactments here are very accurate. (I'm not saying I'd go and watch, but they really are very careful to be accurate.)

120:

Locally, the little demos are from the museum and the Park Service. The actual reenactments are usually on a hired field because reenacting in a park would ruin what's still there from the Civil War.

121:

I should have left it "I'm done." I apologize for the rest--just me letting myself get in a bad mood, for various reasons.

Was I inconsistent? I don't think so, certainly not intentionally. Just blame it on my skimming through the wikipedia pages I linked to.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

--Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

122:

The discussion went like this:

The Jews were perceived to be outsiders in Europe even though most are Kazars

No, genetics shows Jews are not Kazars but of ME origin

Then genetics reinforces the original perception of Jews being outsiders.

Genetics has nothing to do with Jews not being European.
______

It was a switch in midstream from genetics defining (non)European to geography. The latter having had nothing to do with the issue under discussion

123:

That's an interesting thesis. I'm not sure I believe it, considering that Hirohito was left in place, China still hates Japan (at least among the ruling generation), and Japanese schoolkids are taught next to nothing about WWII. Three things that I would expect not to happen if the Chinese were ruling Japan as a puppet. Are you sure you're not confusing Japan with North Korea?

124:

The reenactments here are very accurate.

Well except for the blood, guts, gore, and death. Sure it is.

Sorry I just can't get into these things. I am in no way shape or form a pacifist but these things strike me as just wring.

125:

Wrong.

iPad typing.

126:

But next, take it a step further. Who are folks in the early 22nd century going to play dress-up as? Specifically from the 1945-2010 era?

Geek squad? (I think this is a USA only reference.)

Mad men? Fake tats all over?

127:

Here the NZ, the 'imbalance' in WW2 unit types is mainly put down to having interesting gear. So I'm not aware of any 'line' German units, but we have Waffen SS, FJs (paras), Mountain Infantry, Military Police. The allied units also tend to 'special' (Airborne, Rangers), or units of local interest (NZ Infantry). A museum is supporting an Africa Korps unit (opposition for NZ desert troops).
There are 2-3 public WW1 displays per year that I know of, as part of larger events (it helps when Peter Jackson lends you a couple of his tanks... at the airshow with a dozen WW1 aircraft.)
Also ancient/medieval, black powder (incl colonial), Boer War (using museum trains) and Viet Nam.

128:

First, my apologies to everyone else for this going on, hopefully this will be an end.

@71 - I responded to someone else about Anti-Semitism being a European export.

72 - You reply to one line about Jews, Muslims & Christians co-existing, that they were perceived as native - your false bit about the Khazars, meaning Jews are outsiders in Europe.

75 - I respond with the Wikipedia link. My focus was on debunking the idea that all European Jews are descended from the Khazars, not necessarily the DNA part of the article, which I didn't mention.

77 - You say the link reinforces the view of Jews as outsiders - An idea I never mentioned.

97 - I respond by mentioning intermarriage & that racial purity is nonsense. I suppose you're considering that a mention of genetics--not what I specifically had in mind.

99 - You imply that I contradict myself by referring to the earlier link and the part that was not my focus. You brought up genetics, but imply that I did.

103 - I reply to say that wasn't my point.

104 - You insist on genetic distinctions, though they aren't clear.

108 - I reply, again pointing out that there is no such thing as ethnic purity - that all people share DNA. Then my irritated comment.

113 - You imply I'm being inconsistent.

121 - I apologize (sort of). Ask, rhetorically, if I was inconsistent.

122 - Your view of the discussion. You say it was a switch from Genetics to Geography. I did not make the first mention of genetics, my first comment was about Anti-Semitism in different parts of the world. I guess that means I started off with geography.

That's badly paraphrased, but I think that's the gist.

My final comment, to reiterate, is that people move around and they commingle their DNA, therefore Genetics and Geography are, in a manner, linked.


Again, my apologies to the rest of the commenters and to Charlie in particular.

Now, I'm goin' to bed.

129:

"not confusing Japan with North Korea?"
Nope. After China was lost to the Commies, well it was not ours to lose but nobody cared. China had to be fenced in.
In Europe the Marshal plan built up the West and saved it. The GOP and Souther Democrats so hated spending the tax money that HST ran it by them. After the Democrats were replaced by the Republicans, they was no way there would be a Marshal plan for Asia. The Republicans kept China's war criminals in power, they had been killing Commies in China and that made them good guys. That's why tariffs were cut for them and jobs were traded away. To hold Commie power out of Asia. It worked but look at what its still doing.
That's were the job went. I spent a long time on a paper about it. Nobody wanted to know, really did not want to know.

130:

Does that even make sense to you?

131:

There was a Japanese government/administration in China.

If that's what is being referred to, I can't judge the claim itself, but it isn't a lunatic one: just very poorly expressed. There were probably post-war leaders in Japan, as in Germany and France, whose wartime history was questionable.

132:

@ 90
Fairfax?
( )

@ 96 Tutsi etc.
Read Jared Diamond: "Downfall"

133:

Read Jared Diamond

No, really, don't. James Nicoll or Erik Lund, both of whom comment here, can explain in much more detail, but basically he'd be all right as a populariser if what he popularised wasn't hopelessly out of date.

I do like the idea of Armada re-enactors, though. Possibly even more expensive than the Cold War re-enactors in Accelerando. And you're going to be seriously pissed off when the Drake re-enactors show up six months early and set fire to all your carefully prepared stuff, like they did in the original timeline.

134:

Spam alert 134 .. some sort of commercial weddings accessories scam?

135:

Ta -- we've been under a heavier-than-usual spam attack this week (about 12 in the past 24 hours alone). We're a tough target for blog spammers; I don't leave old threads hanging around, we've got Akismet (a collaborative spam filter) running, and the posting restrictions are fierce, but you can't stop them all.

136:

First I've been shocked by these pictures, then I laughed : It's just so plain stupid to dress in a uniform ofANY army + a uniform of an army that lost a war !
And I thought aboput it : It is not a photograph of someone wearing a uniform, it's a photograph of someone being married while wearing it ! It's a huge difference : the day you marry, you are the one being looked at and you want to be cool, nice-looking ... In one word you are the alpha-male for one day.
And (even if they have lost the war) nazis were the last alpha-males : smashing babies, not using speaking or debating but pure force, killing millions, even their "Heil!" sounds the ape.
re-enacting and cosplaying (and maybe wedding too...)appear to be just two ways of being an alpha-male for a while.
Look at the photographs again : He stands very still, he is bigger than life while she tries to be the cutiest thing on earth : small and shy.
So I've got only one word for them : OOOook!

137:

The right way to oppose Nazi chic, bunny chic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l4b2K10NG0&feature=related

But seriously now (for there are some who do not consider a cartoon to be serious enough) I must say that after years of study and a night's sleep over the matter, I still find it impossible to answer the other question. What would real nazis have though of this wedding cosplay?

Nazism was never an ideology. It was purely a praxis, an ever changing filled with wild contradictions. So in that sense there were never any "real" nazis. It was just a bunch of fascist thugs, given some form of limited, short-run coherence by the dying remnants of Prussian militarism and by the obsessive prejudices of a very shrewd populist.

Some "nazis" would have been enraged at that wedding cosplay, while others would have applauded it, pending directions by the leader.

138:

Then it's a good thing you're not across the border under the wonderfully democratic government of Mitch Daniels. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

139:

" the cutiest thing on earth : small and shy. " Did you dig further into that link that was provided by our Gracious Host ? In the interests of Pure Scientific Investigation of course and as far as the Cute Girls in the Panda Hot Pants? ..I offer this link .. Charlie wont mind ..as a Public Service to all Male Persons Everywhere ...


http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/pictures/panda-and-panda-girls-wearing-panda-shorts-in-shanghai.html

140:

And let's not forget the strange case of Italy where both being resented because of the, err, German invasion[1] and being amicably reminded of the good old days is not that unheard of; but then, so is reading rememberance tables listing resistance fighters alongside "lost in Russia".

But then, if countries were people, Italy and Germany should seriously consider marriage...

[1] Can we agree that this is a somewhat simplifying view of the events after the liber, err, invasi, err, the landing of the Allied in Sicily?

141:

Unless WWI suffers from living in the shadow of WWII- why dress up in a pickelhaube when jackboots have a more menacing association?

At least in Germany, there are some military history guys I know who expicitally stress they are heavily into the German navy, "but mainly just WW1, you know".

General problem is, showing the Imperial War Flag is also an right extremist favourite, since most of the more obvious symbols are prohibited.

142:

AFAIK the problem in the Ukraine is that antisemitism was hardly a foreigner to Ukrainian nationalism even before the war; neither was antipolonism, IIRC.

You could explain this with demographics, the Ukrainians were the poor rural population, where some of the stories remind one of the funny fate of being a peasant in Imperial Russia, very much not, the cities like Lemberg had a strong Yiddish component, and in the aristocracy the way to show one was 'refined taste' was to become polonicized. But still, I agree that comparing what the NKVD did to the Ukrainians etc. to what happened to the Ukrainian Jews etc. is somewhat bad taste; you see, there were still Ukrainians etc. around after the war...

143:

And consider the real Nazi response to those photos would probably be one of rage -- what are those subhumans doing in our elite forces uniform?!

Err, what the Nazis would think about that? To use an incredibly lame pun, Nazis and thinking, never the twain shall meet, err.

Personally, I think the best way to become a hardcore proponent of the constructivist school of ethnic identity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_group#Conceptual_history_of_ethnicity

consists of observing an Ethnic nationalist:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_nationalism

Case in point, in the early 1980s, one of the leading Neo-Nazis in Hamburg was a Negro...

With regards to the original Nazis, first of, most of their leaders fell somewhat short from the Germanic ideal type ("blond like Hitler, lean like Goering, fast as Goebbels", yeah), and while sending pics of Sarah Michelle Gellar to a Neonazi forums is always fun, I somewhat doubt they would have made an exception to their treatment of Jews for her.

As for the props, they were quite, err, multicultural in that, too, the "German salute" was adopted from the Italians:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_salute#Origins_and_adoption

"Some party members challenged the legitimacy of the so-called Roman salute employed by Fascist Italy, as not Germanic. In response, efforts were made to establish its pedigree by inventing a tradition after the fact."

As for the personal, well, when you hear somebody is called Rudolf Levin, you usually don't think him to be one of Himmler's buddies in the Ahnenerbe. OTOH, there is the story of the SS calling Heisenberg a "white jew" for his opposition to the "German Physics".

And last but not least, the German military depended on local ethnic units in many places, sometimes the local Nazi ideologue inventing an Germanic or Aryan genealogy. My personal all-time favourite are the Bosnian Waffen-SS guys, praying to Mecca:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_Waffen_Mountain_Division_of_the_SS_Handschar_(1st_Croatian)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1977-137-20,_Bosnische_SS-Freiwillige_beim_Gebet.jpg

It's amusing (for strange values of "to amuse") to ponder what might have happened had the British Mandate in Palestine become more important; I guess declaring some extreme right-wing Betar guys were Aryan after all would have been easy for the Ahnenerbe...

Generally, in spite of their self-styled insistence of 'ethnic purity', extreme nationalists are quite apt at redefining their various poster groups; that goes quite easily for proponents who use cultural criteria (see e.g. Turkish nationalism under Atatuerk), people into ancestry and like have to forge some genealogies.

So well, I guess the original Nazis should have been outraged if somebody used their uniforms as a dresses for a wedding without being entitled to use them or at least using it to show some affinity to their ideas (fascism and 'histrionics' are synonymous for me, so I wrote 'should', not 'would'). But then, I don't think the anthropometric features of the people on the photos would be such a problem for some of the usual suspects, at least not if the Sino-Tibetans in question had the right attitude, there were some ideas about a Nordic element in East Asia, and one of the goals of the German expedition to Tibet in the 30s was

"to study the current racial-anthropological situation through measurements, trait research, photography and moulds... and to collect material about the proportion, origins, significance and development of the Nordic race in this region."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Beger

(BTW, is it just me, or is Beger smiling lasciviously when measuring the nose of the Sikkim woman?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_135-KB-15-089,_Tibetexpediton,_Anthropometrische_Untersuchungen.jpg

I mean, I'm totally sympathetic in this case, that's what ethnopor, err, ethnographic field research is about, but still, how could he be sure his 'Nordic element' was not an artefact of his former research, err, you know what I mean)

Concerning COS etc., talking about historical facts when dealing with some medieval festivals (with Landsknecht music, for Cthulhu's sake), people into Germanic religion ("No, Odin is not just a Viking god...") etc. makes for a catgirl chainsaw massacre. Let's just say European right extremists are guilty of that one, too, e.g. when they use Prussian traditions, where the original Prussia was quite tolerant to religious minorities like the Hugenotts or Jews.

Concerning Armada reancatment, I agree that in real life that would be prohibitivly expensive, but why not mix two blasphemies into one and create an appropiate MMORPG; of course, you'd have some of the problems of today's reanactment groups, e.g. some of the Spanish Inquisition might be in because they see it as a sad but real part of European history, but I bet there'd be lots of somewhat unhinged talk about "limpieza de sangre" on their private chats.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limpieza_de_sangre

Or some Muslims who are just a little bit too eager when it comes to beat the Reconquistadors...

144:

52: "I've no real experience of re-enactors or living history in that period, but the same is true of WW2 wargamers who habitually play German forces. "

Not my experience at all -- most WW2 gamers of my acquaintance collect several forces. Generally so that whenever a group of them are present in the same location they have a combination that makes a scenario.

{Personally, I've got British Paras and German Grenadiers. In 28mm, so I don't have tanks at all. Or opponents usually, because they're all 15-millers.}

There are a bunch of slightly creepy people who have SS forces which is seen as being in bad taste by everyone else, but generally they're just a bit over-fixated on either being able paint uniforms which are something other than mud coloured or getting to use Big Tanks. (the SS not only had a lot more cammo patterns, but also got better armour). Actual practicing nazis? I can only think of one wargamer who is, and IIRC he does Vikings..


I dread to think what sweeping wrong conclusion you might draw about the fact that I also have night goblins and Napoleonic French. Presumably everyone who collects stuff like that believes in some sort of gallic greenskin racial superiority as well?

145:

"The actual reenactments are usually on a hired field because reenacting in a park would ruin what's still there from the Civil War."

It's been mentioned to me by re-enactors that the Park Service has a general prohibition on the use of firearms on their land, and they include re-enactors in this.

146:

"I understand that they did in fact get rotated out of the trenches on a regular basis, assuming some balloon had not gone up. I can't recall the timing, but it was something like a week or 12 days in the trenches, followed by something similar behind the lines. "

The research I did a while back produced (for the British/Empire units) a cycle of three days in front line trenches, three in support trenches, three days out of the line, three in the support and then back to the front again; although there are accounts of each stage being a week long and also mentions of 3.5 days frontline, 3.5 days support, 7 days in reserve and then 14 days behind the lines.

Other countries (including the French and Germans) did not operate a regular rotation and kept units at the front until they were "exhausted". This wasn't quite so bad for the Germans who were acting much more defensively (and built better trenches, since they expected to be staying in them), but the morale pressure on the French units was much higher and there were several mutinies.

147:

In the old Russia Jews were used as bill and tax collectors. So all of them were really hated.

148:

To be honest, I don't know what all the hubbub is about.

The article itself points it out nicely, it's not about showing sympathy with the Nazi ideology, but for the exhilaration of breaking taboos. I don't believe that's bad, simply because I don't really see how that could undermine the current human society or allow the return of Nazism.

Sadly, there are still Nazis/Neo-Nazis around, but this here might ultimately go towards marginalizing them out of existence. Let them fume over this. Let them see that we have no respect for their atrocious, inhumane delusions. They can't frighten us anymore into submitting into their will with such a degree of pop-cultural dilution.

149:

"They can't frighten us anymore into submitting into their will with such a degree of pop-cultural dilution."

While history might repeat itself, it never does so exactly. That's why people like to think of China as "Communist" or maybe having seen the light, "Capitalist". However, they are almost textbook Fascist. It's not nice to think that the world's most successful economy, and the nation that will soon be eclipsing the USA as the world's premier power is something we pride ourselves on having defeated 65 years ago.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHZIUdHm6b4

150:

anti-semitism wasn't just for germans.. it was everywhere at the time
good old oswald mosely and his happy gang of boys fer instance.
the pogrom in york ?
its one of those convieniently forgotten things , anti-semitism was a popular hobby in the 1930s

History is like gardening in the grounds of an slaughterhouse, you keep digging up bad things

151:

People really don't want to hear bad things about Japan Now or in WW-2. Iris Chang wrote the "Rape of Nanking" about the second Holocaust of WW-2. I saw her on TV wondering why America was not giving information about Japan in WW-2 and contacted her with copies from a then newly de-classified Nip(they prefer Nip) code that was used in the war. She thanked me and was using it when she gave up on live and killed her self.
Nobody in America wants to talk about any of this. Some in England do, but Japan was part of our anti-commie force and we can't have bad things said about them. And look at the money made at the top by selling them jobs and work cheap.

152:
What were they thinking?

I don't think they were thinking at all. Much as folks wearing Che Guevara shirts aren't thinking about who Che was. Or folks in the US wearing the Stars and Bars (aka Confederate flag).

Is there something about Hitler that suggests that can happen again, here, that Che, Mao, and Stalin don't?

I suspect that part of the appeal in those shirts is that it offends "the right sort" of people. Wearing a Hitler shirt in the US will get folks in your face complaining, but the other shirts get more of a "meh" from viewers.

There are no holocaust museums devoted to the victims of Stalin, Mao and Che in the western world (if there is one devoted to Stalin's purges, I suspect it is located in Ukraine). This also adds to why one group is particularly reviled, while folks who killed more get a pass.

There are several books that suggest that this sort of thing can and will happen again. Hitler's Willing Executioners is one, and Hanna Arendt called the principle "The Banality of Evil": that the great evils in the world were not done by sociopaths and criminals, but rather they were done by everyday people who bought into the principles and premises of their leaders.

How on earth is history taught wherever they come from?

History is a terribly political issue. A society (or "culture" if you'd prefer Maggie's claim that there was no such thing as a society) is made up of a bunch of people and the stories those people tell about "who they are" and "who they are not". History gets wrapped up in that sense of identity.

In the US, the main "received wisdom" on why the Civil War started was over "states rights". Which "rights" are not spoken of out loud, but reading the confederate constitution it was clear that the only right of any importance was the right to own slaves. Other issues, which were more important at that time, such as import tariffs, get ignored by all but economists.

The one problem was that the South had strong exports and no manufacturing to speak of. The tariffs caused nothing but annoyance in the South, and were one of the grievances that led to secession.
http://www.zompist.com/jacobs.html


And what, I wonder, would real Nazis make of these wedding photos?

I jokingly state that my father's family fled Germany to get away from the people the boys grew up to become. Based on my memories of how they were, and what they (dis)valued, I'd say they'd be more offended at the guy wearing an Iron Cross (the little diagonal red/white ribbon that goes through a buttonhole on the front of the jacket) than for the rest of the uniform. Based on what women I dated and whether they despised them or not, the unrepentant Nazis I knew considered Asian women (my dating sample of Asians only included Chinese, Japanese and Philippina women) to be "white", while they considered Hispanics to be not-whites (this caused a lot of problems between the parents and myself).

Many of the war pictures and war stories remained hidden in the family until the deaths of those involved. My father's mother got a motherhood medal, which was awarded to women who had 3+ sons. She got one of the early ones, so after she died, and the relatives descended like a plague of locusts on her house, we found the medal, certificate, and a picture of Mr H. handing it to her like a high school diploma. I remember her describing him as a "short smelly man" which I wonder now if it was fiction: supposedly he was 5' 8" (173cm), and she was 5'. The medal, certificate and photo vanished within an hour of discovery and none of the relatives admit taking it.

I was not permitted to watch war movies, as I'd be repeatedly shamed and reminded that those were my cousins dieing. I'm a wee bit older than our host, and I bet he remembers the quantity of war movies in the 60s and early 70s. One fascinating book, The Man Who Saved Britain (which is a history of the James Bond stories, and what it was like in Britain during the times of those stories), mentioned that war movies were very common and very popular until Star Wars came out, and then the popularity of war movies vanished.

But getting back to the family, and family stories, there were very few stories from the "old country" or how "we came to America" (most immigrant families treasure their "coming to America stories). My grandfather had a brilliant knack for knowing when war was coming and heading to the US about a year before they started. Regrettably, no one inherited his business sense, nor that "uh oh, time to move" sense. Instead, there's only one story folks remember (out loud) about the old country, and that is "how the pot of oatmeal got onto the coat of arms".
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8430189@N06/2200042202/

153:

http://www.zompist.com/jacobs.html

Remarkable. A few hours ago I was reading a six year old LJ entry and came across that exact article. (The LJ essay is on city construction, as part of an extended series on fantasy writing.) Now I come here and see it again...

154:

Please specify the civil war you're talking about, and the nationality of the park service in question.

Hint: this is not an American blog; other folks have civil wars and re-enactors too.

155:

Why someone dresses like a Nazi?

1/ The Nazi uniform associates witz STRENGTH.
2/ STRENGTH is sexy.

Why?

Our brain is that of a caveman. Let us presume you are a caveman and there are really "bad times" (enemies approaching). You may elect your leader. Would you vote for

A/ a strong but evil person,
B/ a weak but decent person?


A hint:

Voting for (B) means, all of you will die.

Voting for (A) means, he will defeat the enemies and then you will have the chance to deal with his aggresiveness.

So the optimal choice would be (A), precisely under the condition that you are under attack. When we feel that "times are bad", we would prefer people who are just STRONG.

Here lies the (subconscious) attractivity of the Nazis, pirates, bank-robbers, mafiozos etc., and the reason why most CEO´s, politicians, are tall. Everybody can find hundreds of examples in daily life.

I personally dislike aggresive people. The point of course is: Let´s seek people who are STRONG and DECENT. Let´s try to be one. All positive heroes in Charles Stross books are.

Miroslav Skala

156:

"Why someone dresses like a Nazi?"

Well, specifically SS.
One reason is that the black dress uniform is probably one of the best looking every created. It's the one people think of, even though it was rarely worn. The SS preferred green.
http://www.waffen-ss.no/uniformer/hohen-tunic1.jpg

157:

True.
I was a member of the Roundhead Association for a while, and it surprised me at the time how political the division still is between the good guys and the royalist scum.

158:

Many of the war pictures and war stories remained hidden in the family until the deaths of those involved. My father's mother got a motherhood medal, which was awarded to women who had 3+ sons. ... The medal, certificate and photo vanished within an hour of discovery and none of the relatives admit taking it.

Somewhere there's a picture or two of my mother in law in her Hitler Youth uniform. She will not talk about it. (We live in the US. She the widow of a US Army officer.) She was born in 1928 and got to grow up during those interesting times in southern Germany. But the back story is that her father was a train station master but not a member of the Nazi party. Apparently he was very much anti-Nazi but not very demonstrative about it. So apparently his skills trumped ideology during the war.

But back to the Hitler Youth. It wasn't "required" that everyone join but if you didn't participate during the week you got to (were required) to attend a special boarding school (kiddie jail) when you were not at your regular school. Details are a bit fuzzy due to lack of communications from her on the subject.

159:

But back to the point of the post. Anyone in my family over the age of 30 dressing up as a soldier would be considered odd at a minimum. Soldiers exist to fight wars which means killing people. Re-enactments bring home too many memories of just how terrible such things are in real life. And I don't have a bright line of where it's OK on one side and not on another. It's somewhere between teens playing air soft and adults doing re-enactments. Paint ball gives me a rush but after having done it I decided no more.

And my son and his friends don't see the issue as they play the current crop of video games. I guess this is partially the result of having such a small segment of society who actually goes through military service in the US.

160:

"Anyone in my family over the age of 30 dressing up as a soldier would be considered odd at a minimum."

I've sort of felt that was about civil war re-enactment, not that I did much of it. I've also dressed as a real soldier as a member of the TA decades back, so maybe that influenced the feeling. However, its not confined to dressing as soldiers. I have had the same feeling when I was involved in role playing D&D in a real castle years ago, esp with regards to the "magicians". These guys put in a tremendous amount of work memorizing "spells" and other arcane fictitious lore, not to mention having all the cloaks etc. I was wondering at the time why they did not do the real thing eg join the IOT or something. I also get the same feeling about "Ninjas", or rather people who like getting dressed up and learning the martial art stuff. If they are so keen, why not learn the real thing eg join one of the TA SAS regiments for a modern update.

On the other hand, I do like some of the ancient costumes such as the Viking, but wear it occasionally for fashion, not because I want to be one. Also with swords and shields - I just like the fighting techniques and art of it. I particularly like these guys:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg

161:

People who do nothing want to look like people who did something. Anything, good or bad.
Before the US Civil war the only thing that mattered to the slavers was slaves. There was a movement to buy up the slaves and ship them back. Ok it was dumb, but the slavers went over the very idea of losing there slaves. After they lost they now say it was about other things. Any other thing. If you read what was said then, not now, you will find it was all about slaves. People in power are actively brain washing kids today.

162:

There is just one problem with the idea SS uniforms signal strangth; the guys lost, you know...

If we really have to go with the dark path of pop evolutionary psychology (it's neither stronger nor faster nor easier nor more seductive), AFAIK there is a behaviour in young chimps when they test the patience of the elder male chimps with little transgressions of normal societal norms. Usually there is some point when the elders intervene. Not that I think that scales one to one to humans, I'm not even sure if it's really general chimp behaviour and not part of a specific chimp cultu, err group specific tradition or an artifact. But one could muse that wearing shiny uniforms serves both the primate drive to test the borders of accepted behaviour and the urge to improve your social standing by lending your ass quite literally to the dominant male, err.

Returning to OGH's general idea, emulating more recent historical periods in COS is in for some problems; first of, if the emulated group was part of recent conflicts, the emulation is likely to go as a statement. That's the problem with Nazi chic, but I don't think it's confined to that. Every summer I think about trying some Arab/North African gear to cope with the heat, I think the reactions would be, err, interesting. Emulating a hooligan could get you mistaken for the real thing.

Then, there is the overlap to the usual fashion cycles, with both revivals, retro etc. (I'm not sure if Happy Hardcore parties in Continental Europe are an example) or adaptation (Rockabilly, anyone?).

That being said, anybody in for a 80s politician COS?

163:

Well, there is some real blood, but people do play dead and all the others in the reenactments. Not my thing, either, but I do live on the original battlefield. All of our city is there. We had two buildings left afterwards, both used for organization. You'd think folks would be angry when a Northern soldier laid out the town and named the streets (well, we added a lot more streets and names, but the city has firm boundaries so we don't do that anymore) but they weren't. (All new building -- not many places to do that -- have the city archeologist looking through in case we need to take stuff out before the building.)

164:

Well, some people clearly get something from it. In DC, a well-known, rich, gracious woman was just killed by her husband, who changed her will.

The husband went around a lot of the time pretending to be an Iraq general. He met a lot of important/famous/bureaucrats people that he wouldn't have met without the uniform.

165:

Well, they don't use real bullets. But one of the biggest problems for the Park Service is that when you have that many people walking on the grass all at once, along with horses and carriages, the grass tends to decline.

166:

In fact, the US (Cuba, Canada) turned boats with refugee Jews away.

167:

You know, it's hard to believe you actually did that, since we were attacked by Japanese airplanes at Pearl Harbor, which is what brought us into the Pacific WW2. We ended that with Japan by using nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. We were not on the same side.

168:

Yes, reenactments can get bloody. I've mentioned before that my father used to do them, American Revolution and US Civil War. Both representing regiments on the losing side. I was at one where a musket blew up in one reenactors face, and there is the occasional instance of someone forgetting to take the ramrod out of their barrel. Fortunately, they aren't supposed to use a full powder charge, or actually aim at people.

Just one reason I am not a War Otaku.

169:

She's answering me, and I talked about the US Civil War and the National Park Service (which is the name of our Park Service). I had assumed that at this point, people here would know I live in Manassas.

170:

I think it was Balticon some years ago where the RPGers had some invisibles and they would stand in front of the elevator and tell us we couldn't get in or out because we'd run into them. So after telling them I had to use the elevator and they said I couldn't see them, so couldn't talk to them, I ran into them. I definitely had real weight.

171:

It's hard for that many people to be all together without someone getting hurt, and usually accidentally. I don't mind it being done; I stay out of that area because the roads are too crowded, but it does bring a lot of money into the city and the county around us. And the local hospitals. The big reenactments here are the original Manassas (Bull Run), which is at a very hot time of the summer.

172:

"You know, it's hard to believe you actually did that" DID YOU READ WHAT I SAID? DID YOU UNDERSTAND IT? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
I HELPED A NOW DEAD WRITER WITH INFO ABOUT WHAT JAPAN DID IN CHINA AND SAID THE US DID AND WAS COVERING IT UP.

173:

I do agree that comparison often is not that fertile a tool, and I do actually agree that the industrial extermination processes initiated by the Nazis hold a special place by the sheer awfulness of the mindset involved, but I do also think that members of several Eastern European nations might also have a point when they state that some kinds of body count seem to be considered less important by, say, Western European intellectuals. For instance, (Western) Ukrainians, Balts, members of smaller Fenno-Ugric nations in the North of Russia, often experienced a kind of cultural genocide, where everyone who "stood" out in any way, was "plucked". Not just former political leaders, but also priests or ministers, academics, village teachers, etc. etc. Just one example, in the Baltics stamp collectors stood on the list of those to be deported to Siberia (because they often were interested in what happened abroad and hand connections there). It can be argued that Soviet policy at times was to take out all with some kind of skill or interest, that is, chopping off the head of a nation, leaving only a body, which could then sometimes be secured further by encouraging Great Russian settlement.

174:

I don't know what part she was referring to, but I thought your use of 'Nip' was in poor taste. That's every bit as offensive as 'Jap'. You say 'they' prefer it. What they are you referring to? All the Japanese people I know prefer being called Japanese in English, and Nihonjin in Nihongo.

Did it ever occur to you that Ms. Chang was being polite? I imagine authors get a lot of unsolicited mail, helpful and not. Was this an ongoing correspondence? If so, never mind.

175:

There seems to be a general scale of derogatory abbreviation or name calling. Brit (Limey) and Yanks are OK, Frog, Gerry, Kraut, Jap light to medium offensive, Eyetie (sp?) and Dago (Spic) increasing in offensiveness and Paki more so all the way down to names for Africans.

There seems to be a kind of pecking order that reflect the place of the nationalities in the world. UK and US are, or have been the top dogs so anything goes - we don't care because we can kick the crap out of you and you're not worth bothering about when you abbreviate our name or call us something offensive. Germans, Japanese, French etc are second tier - we can kick the crap out of you but you're still major players and have hurt us in the past. Italians and Spanish, well, not much military respect there. Remember Waterloo and the Armada? But you are modern Europeans. Pakistanis are right down the world pecking order, with Africa at the bottom.

Which leaves the next global superpower, China. I suspect "Chink" is gradually becoming less offensive as China's power and influence grows - grudging respect.

So, the more offensive the name the lower in the global power game the nationality.

176:

Forgot "Ruskies" - ex-global superpower, so not especially offensive.

177:

Dirk, please drop this topic.

Hint: on the internet it's difficult to tell the difference between tongue-in-cheek commentary on terms of ethnic abuse and actual racism.

178:

"Hint: on the internet it's difficult to tell the difference between tongue-in-cheek commentary on terms of ethnic abuse and actual racism."

I understand, but what I wrote was neither.
It's just an observation

179:

I've heard Brit (A native or inhabitant of Great Britain) used in England. Meaning everybody not just the English. If its a bad thing somebody say so. I've read that the Japanese prefer Nipponese or Nip tp Japanese. That's what they call themselves. True??
"Did it ever occur to you that Ms. Chang was being polite?" Yes it did, I long wondered about bugging her. But she it was new to her and I saw she was getting into it, using some of it on TV.
I wanted people to read her book. Not the poor Japan stuff the propagandists have been writing. I'm not crazy over Yanks, but that's why it used by the ones who use it.

180:

I've never heard Brit used in a racist fashion.

I've read that the Japanese prefer Nipponese or Nip tp Japanese. That's what they call themselves. True??

Again, none that I know, not a huge sampling, but some I've known for a couple decades. I've only seen Nipponese in SF novels, never heard it used in real life.
If I'm wrong, so be it. No offense intended.

About Iris Chang (much respect--she did excellent work), I agree that her work should be more widely known, and will take your word about what you say.

181:

Firstly, general thanks to everyone that came up with new details on wars, particularly as the war related to where they were born or live, especially if you're a new or infrequent commentator.

#144 - Katie, I actually know folks in 2 wargames clubs directly or as "friends of a guy I know who owns a wargames shop and sells the gamers most of their rules and miniatures". If you'd like to carry this on further, perhaps Charlie would be willing to forward an e-mail from you, and I'll reply directly.

182:

Case in point, in the early 1980s, one of the leading Neo-Nazis in Hamburg was a Negro...

Share!

183:

Err, it's going to take some time, and most of the evidence is somewhat circumstancial (memories of some early punks which go together, an interview with Christian Worch in a German SF magazine). And in German.

For starters, google for "Savage Army" and "Heiner", the name of the guy. Which brings up that one:

http://www.highdive.de/over/slime1.htm

SPEX and Slime, the memories...

184:

Err, warning, you're going to loose D100 sanity points[1]...

Seems like the guy was the son of an US soldier and a German female. In the late 70s/early 80s, he first went for punk and afterwards became a skin.

As mentioned, there is an interview with Christian Worch, an old, err, comrade of Michael Kühnen (BTW, for those not in the know, Kühnen is another one of those "how on earth did the guy become a Nazi"-types, he was at least in his later years more or less openly gay and died of, err, AIDS.)

The interview was in ANDROMEDA, a SF fandom magazine:

http://www.burks.de/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2975&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=&sid=6371527619dd6f2f8001b56fe18599c5

He mentions a friend in Hamburg, a half-negro; there is no proof he is our guy, but it's probable.

If you excuse me, I have to go about ranting about some sitcom called "Our little Wehrsportgruppe" I'm planning to make...

[1] While we're at it, I read my first Pratchett when I borrowed it from our local, err, comrade on a school trip. And most of the people I knew listening to "Boehse Onkelz" were the Antifa people. Later some rightist football fans, who are now going steady with ethnic Russian (no, not the German ancestry version) girl and Latina girls. While most of the punks and hippies I know only date partners from the same sociocultural and ethnic group, err. If you excuse me, my loss of sanity points is showing...

185:

> But still, I agree that comparing what the NKVD did to the Ukrainians etc. to what happened to the Ukrainian Jews etc. is somewhat bad taste;

The current problems with antisemitism and hate of Russians are mostly limited to Western Ukraine, while it was Eastern Ukraine that suffered most from Stalin style justice and hunger in 1930s.


It would not be correct to say that NKVD was particularly bad to Ukrainians. They were not very nice to any of USSR ethnicities (Russians and Jews included). Besides many of NKVD officers were Ukrainians themselves. Again, most of horrible things in USSR happened before Western Ukraine (and Baltic countries) where assimilated into USSR, so you can not really explain Nazi love simply by suffering from horrible totalitarian power in the East.

But I digress.

186:

I have read that Stalin was harder on the Ukrainian because he was from there.
Back in the late 60's I was listening to Brit TV. I don't know what kind. There was some guy with a Irish accent doing jokes. For a large part of a hour I heard the lowest, rottenest, most racist jokes I had ever heard. But it was about the Irish so it was ok. Back in the States later there were Polick jokes. A very few, and in low bars by drunks to drunks , not on TV. They were nothing next to English Irish jokes.

187:

Stalin was from Georgia

188:

You said:

People really don't want to hear bad things about Japan Now or in WW-2. ...but Japan was part of our anti-commie force

No, Japan was not part of our anti-commie force in WW2. We were enemies. Since you're so inaccurate at that, it's hard to believe you did what you said.

189:

Sir,
I have been following this thread with some bemusement.
As far as naming goes, you have been misinformed. The Japanese do not prefer "Nip". If they think about it at all, they view it as derogatory. They also fully accept that the English word is "Japanese". The term in Nihongo (日本語) is Nihonjin or Nipponjin (日本人). Either pronunciation is OK. You can also say "Nippon no hito" (日本の人) for "Japanese people".
When I ask native speakers about the term "Nipponese", I just get blank looks. I think this is a western creation made by combining "Nippon" and the English suffix "-ese". (Though I suppose some ultra-rightwing nutters here in Japan might prefer it.)

190:

"ask native speakers about the term "Nipponese"
Ok. I just read that Japanese was what the West labeled them at the first and they put up with it, not that they liked it. If what I read and said was wrong it was wrong.
It should have been clear that I was talking about after the war. The Republicans would not tax to hold bad Commie China back like the Democrats did in post-war Europe. They really hated that. So they "made Japan a bulwark" to keep it out of Asia. Part of doing so was cleaning up the war criminals before giving them grants, tariff breaks and jobs. They were put in charge temporally, then kept there by the Republicans. What the heck, they had been killing Commies, so they must have been ok. Who do you think is running Japan now? The ones picked by the WW-2 guys to keep up the good work.

191:

It was asked to please drop the topic. At the very least, please take a minute to think before posting about politically-charged subjects -- politically-charged means someone will take it personally and not react well.

192:

It is true that Russians also were victims of oppression in the USSSR, and in large numbers. On the other hand, I would still argue that the experiences of several minorities still differ in kind from the experience of the majority population. After the idealistic minority policy of the 20ies was replaced by homogenisation (often similar to Great Russian chauvinism of Tsarist times) under Stalin, some minorities were under very strong cultural pressure. For instance, some minorities found in the late 30ies that the ABCs made in the 20ies for their language, were taken from the shelves of schools and libraries, and not only did the academics that had made those ABCs "disappear", but the primary school teachers that could teach from them as well. Sometimes even the brighter pupils. Needless to say, something exactly of this kind did not happen in Russophone and ethnic Russian villages.

193:

d brown: Please take a week off from this blog, you're getting excessively worked up and/or borderline racist in tone.

194:

Administrative note to Dirk Bruere: your last comment is unpublished because I am trying to prevent this from turning into a flame-fest on the subject of racism. Please help maintain a civil discourse on my blog by finding something else to talk about?

195:

A Swedish neo-Nazi cop-killer and a war criminal of the Bosnian war:

[ POTENTIALLY LIBELOUS CONTENT DELETED BY MODERATOR. Please read the moderation policy, especially para 5. Note: truth is not a defense against ruinous legal bills. ]

196:

'If you think about it Germans suffered much more from Soviet troops then from Nazis, much more then Western Ukrainians.' (Alexey Gordin, post 67)
The Germans started it and deserved at least some of what they got. The West Ukrainians did not; the USSR screwed them just because it could.
'Yes, local history is quite complex, but this explanation is not enough.' (Alexey Gordin)
One part of the explanation is that Nazi Germany has been history since 1945. Only quite old people have any experience of that, to the younger ones it's just history.
Soviet Union lasted until 1991. Most people alive today in the former Soviet bloc know what it was like, and the memories aren't always fond.

197:

Kipling:
'There were thirty million English who talked of England's might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.'

198:

OK.
However, I do have some personal experience in that field.

199:

"We're just into fashion, really."

OK, you ignorant fucks. I'll show up at one of the Korean or Chinese events in an Imperial Japanese officer's uniform with Unit 713 insignia and a couple (Korean and Chinese) girls (un)dressed as "Comfort Women". That will be alright, won't it? It's just dress-up. And the uniforms were snappy looking.

Specials

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