That old debate....

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BarryW

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'that old debate', the one on whether to display swastikas on models is one that regularly appears on all sorts of modelling forums.

I posted this on a FB forum where this discussion raised its head and I realised that I had never posted this here. It gives, perhaps a different perspective on this debate....

'''''''My father (now age 90) lived in Dover throughout the war as a child. My grandmother (my grandfather was away serving in the Royal Navy) was against evacuating her kids saying, if we go we all go together.... Dover, of course, is the frontline town, the closest point to occupied Europe during the war and the Battle of Britain and many other battles were fought over Dover.

My father told me about standing in the town and on the cliffs watching the dogfights with a good few stories I wont go into now. To him the black crosses and swastikas were hated symbols of the enemy, targets for the RAF pilots, but also to him they were part of the aircraft that 'our boys' fought.

A Luftwaffe aircraft just does not look right without them.

As a child, building models, even back in the 60's many kits did not have swastikas. I remember him picking up a model of a bf109 without swastikas telling me that it was disrespectful to 'our boys' to leave it off. To him it was symbol of the evil we fought against and an important reminder of that evil against which so many sacrifices were made. He said that we must always be reminded of that, of what the RAF and others did to save us and what they were saving us from. I have never left a swastika off a Luftwaffe model since and never will.'''''

Subsequent to posting that and thinking further about this, I can appreciate what my dad said even more. WW2 was not just a 'normal' war fought against a 'normal' enemy, it was one fought against an ideology as well. Most Luftwaffe pilots were not themselves Nazis even though they had to have that symbol on their aircraft. To display Luftwaffe aircraft with just the national symbol reduces that war to just one between nations. It somehow devalues what 'our boys' fought against and, in a way, disrespects the enemy pilots who were not themselves Nazis and were just doing their duty. Just a thought....
 
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boatman

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VERY TRUE Barry an very well laid out for for an against :thumb2: as its not gonna disappear what with all the world war 2 programes on the telly an in films im afaid its history
chris
 

Archetype

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Whilst a valid point, I would suggest that building models of such things is an entirely different topic.

The swastika is a symbol of hate and is a constant reminder of the atrocities carried out under it's banner and should not be forgotten.
I personally choose not to build anything that was used with it's mark or in it's name. I can't understand why you would, however that is the beauty of free will.

That's not to criticise anyone that does of course, just my own ignorance I guess.
 

Jim R

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Well said Barry. Your dad's thoughts are well considered and to be respected. We can't airbrush history nor should we forget that the swastika was an Eastern symbol of peace, hope and good luck for thousands of years before the Nazis appropriated it for their evil regime.
Jim
 

wotan

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Living on the other side of the Atlantic, there is currently a very active debate about the use of another ideological symbol namely the confederate flag. Both this flag and the swastika are significant symbolic representations of ideologies that have NOT disappeared, however much we like to think that they have. It is hugely important that thinking people do everything possible to eradicate these ideas and remove ANY symbols that promote them, from popular culture.

John
 

Gern

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I'm not trying to be difficult folks, but just a thought. The Allies killed almost ten times the number of German civilians in bombing raids than were killed in England. Couldn't it be argued that Allied symbols should be banned in Germany? Why not go the whole hog and remove all national markings from all war machines? Any sort of censorship will have its opponents, and folks will say we have to draw a line somewhere - then argue about where the line should be.

Trying to re-write history by drawing lines and hiding stuff does not allow us to view and maybe correct our mistakes. Everyone agrees the Nazi regime was evil, but we need to keep it in our history books so we can maybe avoid similar regimes coming to power - although looking around the world at the moment, it seems we haven't learned the lesson too well.
 

Tim Marlow

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Not sure about this myself. As a scale modeller I strive to create a miniature facsimile of the subject, down to all colours, markings and weathering. If I build a WW2 German plane I therefore have to include The Swastika if it is present. If I built an Italian plane I would need the Fascist markings, and for the Japanese the Hinomaru would be essential. As a model maker I couldn’t leave them out, it would look wrong and contribute to a feeling of incompleteness for the finished model. This does not mean I agree with, or support the ideology, far from it. I am just showing how they looked.
The choice of subject and if it should be made is another complete can of worms....and is completely down to how the individual feels. I personally choose not to make SS subjects because I do not want to depict that ideology. However, I am OK with Heer and Luftwaffe because they put the conflict into context. I completely understand if others see it differently.
 

prichrd1

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We can't airbrush history nor should we forget that the swastika was an Eastern symbol of peace, hope and good luck for thousands of years before the Nazis appropriated it for their evil regime.
It was first used some 6000 years BC - people all too often forget these things and please remember that the Finnish Air Force used this symbol during the war on their aircraft as well - were they tarred as the "bad guys" as well?
Don't want to start WWIII - but historically if an aircraft has/requires this symbol to look the part, then it should be up to the individual weather they include or exclude that symbol.

Paul.
:smiling2:
 

beowulf

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im in favour of adding the symbol.......it happened and it should be recorded

i can understand that it is banned in some countries and rightly so.......but we arnt one of them

as for rewriting history by removing symbols to make it 'more acceptable'....then im not in favour.........welcome to 1984 and the Ministry of Truth.......i am in favour of learning from the past so we dont repeat things, but not brushing it under the table
 

Neil Merryweather

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In my humble opinion the decisive factor is the context.
I can't see anything wrong with modelling aircraft with swastikas or ACW figures with Confederate flags, but I DO see a problem if you have the confederate flag flying over your town hall or your front porch, or you have a swastika bumper sticker or tattoo.
I understand that the swastika is illegal in Germany(even the genuine flying ME 109s don't carry them) and that is why Revell and Airfix don't include them in their decals, and why some other manufacturers supply them in pieces. Like it or not, the Swastika has been stolen and perverted and polluted by the Nazis, and its current emotive symbolism is unlikely to be undone by any amount of reasoned historical argument.
Personally, I have no interest in making SS figures-Waffen or otherwise, but I don't object to other people doing so.

I think the recent events around slave trade-related statues in the UK give us white people something to think about. No, we should not airbrush history by removing them altogether, but I see no problem with placing theses statues in museums with explanations about why they were removed form public prominence.
 

Jakko

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Most Luftwaffe pilots were not themselves Nazis
I would not be too sure of that. For starters, the myth of the “Clean Wehrmacht” is not called that for nothing. The Luftwaffe was a very prestigious thing for the NSDAP, and therefore tended to attract people with national-socialist sympathies, if not actual party membership.

To display Luftwaffe aircraft with just the national symbol
I know you’re referring to the Balkenkreuz there, but the swastika was one of the national insignia of German aircraft at the time, just like the RAF had red/white/blue roundels on the wings and fuselage plus red/white/blue vertical stripes on the tail.

FWIW, my take on it is that WWII German aircraft should have a swastika on it — not for any ideological reasons, but because it’s historically correct. As soon as you start displaying Nazi swastikas because you support the ideology, though, you should go and buy yourself a brain and an education.

I understand that the swastika is illegal in Germany
In so far as it is not used in a historical context. The problem for modellers is that everybody errs on the side of caution, so national-socialist symbols tend to get censored even on things meant to represent history because they are not history. A photograph from the 1940s showing a Luftwaffe aircraft with a swastika on the tail should not be a problem, a 21st century drawing of one often will be, for example.
 

AlanG

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I for one will always add the swastika to my German aircraft/boats because they are part of history. As many have said,it shouldn't be airbrushed or diluted for a public that are becoming more 'sensitive' to anything and everything. Learn from history and move forward.

I think the recent events around slave trade-related statues in the UK give us white people something to think about. No, we should not airbrush history by removing them altogether, but I see no problem with placing theses statues in museums with explanations about why they were removed form public prominence.
In context of this i shall just say that i do not agree with the removal. I will not be held accountable for things done in the past. I am not a racist nor agreeing with our past slave-trading history. But it is just that. IMHO...Live with it and learn from it. How far back do we go? Remove Roman, Viking, Greek, Egyptian ruins/monuments? Because they sure had them.
 

Wouter

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I think the Swastikas should be there. No need for a kind of censorship to me. Seeing a bf109 or a fw190 without seems odd. But thats the way the world seems to be.
Recently I saw a documentary about f1 in the 80s and 90s. The tobacco advertisements and even alcohol ones were blurred out....I think that's just ridicilous.
And what about hammer and sickle? While in essence communism isn't the same as nazism because it doesnt propagate hate in its ideology, many more people were killed in name of that ideology. Much more than in the name of nazism. Yet the debate is always about the swastika, while that symbol in essence has nothing to do with hate as well. It's connotation in Asia for instance is completely different.
Just my two cents.
 

Jim R

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Looking at events and the actions of people from the past with the understanding and sensibilities of the present is fraught with danger. Hopefully society learns from history and strives to move on and to become more understanding and tolerant. What was acceptable in the past may offend today but we must consider those things in context.
Was Guy Gibson a racist because of the name he gave his dog? Was Shakespeare being anti-semitic when he wrote The Merchant of Venice? I doubt very much whether either of these famous men would do the same if they were subject to today's standards.
Jim
 

Del640

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As far as I'm concerned I build replica scale models, mainly from the WWI/II era.

That's military vehicles/aircraft and so on, all with whatever insignia they were adorned with.

It's not a reflection of my views or my thoughts on the varying insignia, but if they displayed a swastika or other upsetting emblem at the time then I'll include it on the build.

It's not a statement, it's history.

Del
 

John Race

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I think the Swastikas should be there. No need for a kind of censorship to me. Seeing a bf109 or a fw190 without seems odd. But thats the way the world seems to be.
Recently I saw a documentary about f1 in the 80s and 90s. The tobacco advertisements and even alcohol ones were blurred out....I think that's just ridicilous.
And what about hammer and sickle? While in essence communism isn't the same as nazism because it doesnt propagate hate in its ideology, many more people were killed in name of that ideology. Much more than in the name of nazism. Yet the debate is always about the swastika, while that symbol in essence has nothing to do with hate as well. It's connotation in Asia for instance is completely different.
Just my two cents.
I agree about your views Wouter on the Hammer and Sickle. Stalin murdered more than 50 million in the purges, including some of his best engineers, let alone the officers in the army. I love Russian armour, build it for that reason and no other. Its history we are showing.
 

SimonT

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History has happened, both good and bad, so as far as I'm concerned if something/someone existed at a point in time then it existed, whether we like it or not.

I would have no problem with modelling a plane with a swastika on the tail or a truck with an ss numberplate or a race car covered with tobacco and alcohol advertising as that is what it looked like at a moment in time, regardless of what we might think about the rights and wrongs of it now
 

Jakko

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And what about hammer and sickle? While in essence communism isn't the same as nazism because it doesnt propagate hate in its ideology, many more people were killed in name of that ideology. Much more than in the name of nazism.
Careful, that is a very difficult debate … For one, “in the name of” is already misleading: yes, Stalin had a lot of people killed in the name of communism, but in reality it was because he felt they were a threat to his position and it was nothing inherently to do with communism — whereas German national socialism actively pursued the murder of entire population groups, based purely on ideology. This is quite an important difference if you want to get into why certain symbols are more or less laden than others (though, of course, it won’t make overly much difference to the victims in the end).

Yet the debate is always about the swastika, while that symbol in essence has nothing to do with hate as well. It's connotation in Asia for instance is completely different.
ALL symbols are only what people associate them with. That is entirely the problem: go to, say, India, and I suspect very few people will have any issue at all with you displaying a swastika. Do the same in Germany and you’ll probably very soon be asked by police WTF you think you’re doing (unless it’s clearly anti-Nazi). In the 1980s, the Dukes of Hazard could drive around unmolested, but I somehow suspect they wouldn’t get away with that anymore today (I also suspect some people had issues with that back then too, but not enough to raise their voices about it). And so on.
 
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