BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) — Organizers of an annual living history encampment in Michigan say they're going to "take a long, hard look" at including German soldiers at future events after a photo of re-enactors posing with a Nazi flag circulated on social media.
A Bay City resident published the photo, taken Sept. 24, on Facebook. It shows four re-enactors in German soldier regalia smiling while holding the Nazi flag. The photo drew heavy backlash from users on social media, The Bay City Times reported .
The photo was taken after a re-enactment of a World War II battle. Organizers of the River of Time event said the Nazi re-enactors they hired were told beforehand to not display World War II-era German flags that feature Nazi symbols, such as the swastika, at their camps.
"I'm going to need to take a long, hard look at this and make sure we are vetting people and making them understand that they need to be very sensitive — especially because of what's going on in the country right now," said Mike Bacigalupo, director of the Bay County Historical Society.
The Nazi re-enactors at this year's event are part of the 9th SS Hohenstaufen Living History Group from Detroit.
Steve Cook, a re-enactor with the group, said the members in the photo were being "foolish" and not following the mission of educating the public in an appropriate way.
"We're going to put the message out a little harder to those guys that they need to be respectful of the public," Cook said.
Cook stressed that his group is solely a re-enactment group and not a political or paramilitary organization.
Bacigalupo said his committee will learn from this year's event and use the feedback for future events.
Information from: The Bay City Times, http://www.mlive.com/bay-city