1stPanzer's blog

Now I am not one to moan about things (generally) but can anyone tell me why reenacting Germans march so much better than reenacting Americans or Brits?!

We were at Gunpowder Mills in Essex last weekend - a glorious location for an event set amongst 170 acres of parkland dotted with old wartime and cold war buildings where they used to test rockets and bombs including the infamous 'bouncing bomb'. It made for a perfect setting, especially the amazing battle fought around the mostly falling down and abandoned scenery. We saw deer every day, the public were talkative (until we deafened them with the gas-firing MG34!) and the other groups were really friendly. We made some good friends that weekend, and I managed to actually get a little tipsy!

Anyway back to the point - while cooking our eggs (borrowed from the Russkies) and sausage (liberated from the Polish) a rather ragged bunch of Americans 'marched' past us singing a rather rude song! Well that was it - they had obviously laid down a gauntlet, for about 15 minutes later along come a band of slightly more professional looking Para troops, marching a lot better and almost in time however singing an even ruder song! Entertainment for breakfast time indeed.

Until not 10 minutes later along came the Grossdeutschland... wow, just wow. Not churning out a rude song but marching in time to an officer singing out 'links, rechts!' by the side of the men in his leather patched breeches just like the regular Wehrmacht officers from upper class backgrounds used to effect. They looked amazing, but wow how much training went into that! 

I ventured to their camp later in the day - I thought we were pretty authentic but theirs was incredible. They were actually really nice chaps though obviously very dedicated to their reenactment - and in the battle it was again a perfect storm. All praise to them indeed for giving the admiring public a chance to see how it might have really looked.

On another note - I had a very interesting conversion with a member of another group who are a little like WWIIRESW in that they are a loose band of all sorts who play Battle for Berlin and basically have people turn up when they can, representing all units. We had a discussion about equipment, and he made a very valid point about how people can be quite bonkers regarding ageing everything. He said, well actually equipment would probably have not been more than two years old, so wearing new equipment, and having non-rusty gear would generally be more accurate - after all, it wasn't 70 years old back then!

Great point. Think I will polish my boots again :-)

See you around.

Rose x 

I suppose I saw it coming - being a complete tomboy I knew acting the part of a nurse at reenactments was never going to be enough for me. But the usual 'German women didn't fight in WWII' comment stuck with me for ages, so I reluctantly stopped looking at photos on the 'net of the beautiful burnished wooden stocks of K98s.

Then I read somewhere in my research about the Leibstandarte that in the Battle for Berlin, and at the defence of Breslau, some women did take up weapons. Though this was in defence, of course. My interest was piqued however, so I started some serious searching for sources that always seemed to be very well hidden.

At last I found an article by a lady American historian, determined to unearth untold tales of American servicewomen. In doing so, she discovered some interesting facts about all the women who fought in WWII, including a very few Germans!

"In November 1944, Hitler issued an official order that no woman was to be trained in the use of weapons - excepting those women in the remote areas of the Reich that could easily be overrun by the Soviets. In one such area, a 22 year old woman named Erna was awarded the Iron Cross when she, together with a male sergeant and a private, destroyed three Soviet tanks with panzerfausts. Lore Ley, daughter of a prominent National Socialist official, once knocked out a Soviet armoured car and captured military documents. However weapons training was still unofficial for German women until February 1945, when Hitler created an experimental women's infantry battalion. The war ended before they finished training."

In all, 39 German women were awarded the Iron Cross for their duty, though I have to admit these ladies were mainly nurses!

But the evidence is there and precedent exists for me to go and buy that K98, pull on my muddy jackboots and carry it with a sense of humility.




A typical conversation:

"Oh so you play the Germans! Eeek, why?"

"Well we like the weaponry, the hardware and the chance to educate people about the Waffen SS"

"Really? But are you sure, is it not just the uniforms!?!"


What can I say? We get plenty of comments from the public about 'the uniforms', and Simon does get asked many times for photos (including a lovely old lady in a wheelchair!), and sometimes even slightly propositioned! I dread to think how much he populates the internet, and a quick search using 'officer, SS, motorbike" brings up yours truly, or indeed him indoors.

But on to the serious stuff - we have talked with many veterans at shows, and to date not one has been offput by our acting 'The Enemy'. Indeed, they ask us many questions, and also give us their unbelievably incredible stories, which we have listened to avidly. I was always concerned about the veterans, as both of us want to show the most utter respect at all times, and be grateful for their sacrifice.

At a show in August, we were invited to take part in the Remembrance Service, so we duly did not wear headgear and stood to attention at the correct times, avidly singing the hymns. We gave respect, and gladly received a little back.

So the question is, who is it that we do 'get flak' off? To date, it has been one isolated case of a group of school kids booing us every time we rode past on Bertha (our combo).

Well, to be honest, I think we can let them have that one - particularly as the school posted photos of the kids climbing all over Bertha on Twitter.

Rose, 1st Panzer.