Education or propaganda? Nazi WWII re-enactment stirs controversy in Italy (VIDEO)

Education or propaganda? Nazi WWII re-enactment stirs controversy in Italy (VIDEO)
Anti-fascist groups are up in arms over a previously postponed World War II re-enactment, saying the event’s use of Nazi SS soldier dress normalizes propaganda and military culture.

The Cologno Monzes historical re-enactment near Milan was previously cancelled in April due to its focus on a military camp run by Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht unit. A watered down version including other World War II nations like Russia went ahead on Saturday. Despite the softening of Nazi iconography, the event has not pleased everyone, however.

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The National Association of Italian Partisans (ANPI), founded in 1944 to resist the country’s fascist alignment with Germany, is outraged at Nazi German material such as weapons and SS uniform being on show at the Villa Casti.

Local ANPI representative Antonio Manicone suggested to La Martesana that event’s organizers are shaming the memory of those who died at the hands of the Nazis.

“These [Nazi] symbols… would represent an outrage against the citizens of Cologno deported and dead in the Nazi concentration camps."

However, the local mayor has fired back, describing the event as a chance to educate people.

And despite mayor Angelo Rocchi’s insistence that the event offers an “educational and cultural opportunity”, ANPI was joined in its opposition by the local Anti Fascist Network.

The group said even though certain elements of the re-enactment had changed, the representations of war to young people is not acceptable.

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“Our concern about the non educational nature and the clearance of Nazi occupation and propaganda of military culture remain founded. Weapons are used as toys for souvenir photos, not as a warning to the horrors of war,” the network told Milano Today.

Protesters opposing the event - described by the local government as an open air museum exploring historical World War II camps - plan to gather near the re-enactment to hand out flyers promoting peace on Sunday. The Anti Fascist Network say they will also watch to make sure a false portrayal of historical events are not relayed to people. 

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