A re-enactment of wartime Europe in Ramsbottom has upset members of the local community after participants appeared wearing swastikas, Nazi uniform and SS insignia at the pageant over the Jubilee weekend.
The offence caused by the Nazi emblems was compounded when a Jewish couple was asked to dress up wearing the yellow star of David, reports the Manchester Evening News.
Merton and Barbara Paul were asked by one of the wartime weekend participants if they would carry battered suitcases, 'look poor' and wear the yellow star of David, which was used by Nazis to ostracise and persecute Jews.
Offensive outfits were worn at the wartime weekend
The couple told the Manchester Evening News the whole experience was "distressing" with Mr Paul saying: "Of course we wouldn’t want to do that. No Jewish person would.”
The couple have previously enjoyed attending the wartime weekend, hosted by the East Lancashire railway, believing the experience to be a good way of "remembering the sacrifices made" during the Second World War.
The SS symbol was banned by the organisers this year after previous outrage at the Nazi outfits. However event co-ordinators had still allowed participants to sport the swastika as well as wear the uniform of the regular German army, the Wehrmacht.
In spite of those concessions, some of the 'actors' this year still flouted the rules. The Manchester Evening News reports that a man was seen dressed as Hermann Goring, one of the leading members of the police state in Nazi Germany and a convicted war criminal responsible for the murder and enslavement of millions of Jews.
Barbara and Merton Paul were distressed by some of the outfits at the wartime weekend
A statement from the East Lancashire Railway said they had spotted "a handful of people" who had turned up wearing the offensive insignia and had asked them to either remove the item or leave, which the 'actors' were happy to do.
However Mr Paul told the newspaper he later spotted the men wearing the SS insignia drinking in a pub, describing their actions as "disrespectful" and "upsetting."
Retired dental surgery designer Mr Paul told the Manchester Evening News: "We can’t see why at an event supposed to be about the British experience in wartime, it is necessary for some of these re-enactors to dress up in this way. The SS weren’t on British soil. "
The statement from the organisers suggested there might have been darker forces at play, describing the repeated appearance of Nazi uniforms at the event as "extremely worrying.
"The more cynical amongst us just might start to think that this was a deliberate attempt to de-rail what has become a really popular family event with the very clear aim to court controversy. We are saddened by what has happened and we now need to take a serious look at whether a complete ban on German and Axis representation at future events is necessary."
Andy Morris, General Manager at the East Lancashire Railway said:
“I think it is appropriate that we offer our sincerest apologies to any of our visitors or those in the community that this incident has upset and I can state quite categorically that measures will be put in place to ensure such things do not happen again, in the future.”