Representing the Other and the Democratization of History. Polish Reenactors in Nazi Uniforms
Baraniecka-Olszewska, Kamila <Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland>
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Through a case study of the World War II reenactment movement in Poland, this article analyzes the relationship between the processes of the democratization of history and the normalization of the Nazi past. There are numerous groups whose members dedicate their time to represent Wehrmacht or Waffen-SS units and do so in the public while reenacting battles or restaging historical events. Despite the dominant moral attitude which condemns representing troops that committed war crimes and atrocities, reenactors defend their hobby, offering an alternative, in their opinion, moral and critical way of engaging with the Nazi past. The author argues that presenting views on WWII in the public sphere is possible due to the process of the democratization of history. However, she also demonstrates that the very same process means that reenactors’ efforts are misunderstood by their audiences. Also, these reenactment practices have contributed to normalizing the Nazi past.