Frequently Asked Questions
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World War II reenacting is where individuals put on the uniforms of World War II-era soldiers and step back in time to recreate the sounds, look, smells, and feelings of the greatest conflict in human history. Essentially, we do two separate things, which sometimes combine together at the same event. Firstly, we do battle recreations. These are mostly private affairs, meaning that the public, or non-reenactors, are not around. Battles are fought using blank ammunition, and can be either scripted or free flowing in terms of starting positions. Usually, each side is given objectives to hold or to take, and points are tabulated based on the accomplishment of the mission. A player is "killed", or takes their "hit", when they visually see a member from the other side level their weapon at them, pull the trigger, and see and hear the weapon discharge. It works on the honor system, and we expect all of our members to be realistic in their approach. No "Rambo"-types are tolerated, as it is both unrealistic and reflects badly on the unit. In addition, it can and does negatively affect your side's score, as points are deducted for "invincible soldiers". Secondly, we do what is referred to as "living history". This is where we typically interact with the public, and provide information, education, and Q+A type services. This may involve setting up a campsite at an air show, and dressing and acting like typical WWII soldiers. We strive to be as accurate as possible: No modern radios, cell phones, jewelry, etc allowed! Our goal is to portray a WWII soldier, and make the public feel as if they have stepped into a time machine and have been transported backwards to 1944. In addition, we interact with the public, answering questions they may have, and generally explaining and showing them things that make our hobby and our impressions unique.
First off, we portray the combat branch of the SS organization. We are not at all associated with the concentration camp system. The Waffen, or Armed, SS was a branch of the SS organization that was made up of combat soldiers. Originally, they grew out of the protection detachment assigned to Hitler and other high ranking Nazi officials. Having decided to create an armed force totally subservient to him, Hitler allowed the creation of the Waffen-SS as a counter balance to the Heer, or regular army, which he never quite trusted 100%. By creating a body of armed troops loyal to him, Hitler sought to prevent mutiny against him. The Waffen-SS grew to eventually become an entire separate branch within the armed forces of the Third Reich, and as time wore on and Germany's situation worsened, the complexion of the Waffen-SS changed dramatically. Originally established to be the elite of the German military, by war's end, over 1,000,000 men had passed through their ranks from a multitude of nations. In many respects, the Waffen-SS was the 20th Century's first version of NATO, in that it was a multi-national, multi-ethnic body that primarily was positioned to fight against the Soviet Union. (Note-In no way are we equating NATO with the Waffen-SS in terms other then their shared composition of a multi-national fighting force)
By war's end, over 35 Waffen-SS divisions had been raised, and volunteers to help fill these units had volunteered and enlisted from many countries, including France, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Holland, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, and even a few from the United Kingdom. In addition, many former German Navy (Kriegesmarine) and Air Force (Luftwaffe) personnel who no longer had ships to man or planes to fly/service were transferred into the Waffen-SS as manpower needs saw fit. The majority of those who served within the organization were not rabid Nazi's, despite the image you are likely to see portrayed on TV and in the movies.
That being said, we who portray combat soldiers of the 9th Waffen-SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen are not modern-day Nazi's. In fact, we do not tolerate any form of neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, extremist, racist, or derogatory behavior within our ranks. We are non-political in this regard, with a "zero-tolerance" policy in place. The hobby of re-enacting and our group has no room for any nonsense such as that, and it is not tolerated in any capacity. We are first and foremost students of history, and we wish to portray the average soldier. Nothing more, nothing less.
In addition, many
of our members have WWII impressions other then Waffen-SS. From time to
time, they have attended events as German Afrika Koprs, Russian
or American soldiers. We primarily portray a German unit with German impressions,
but members of our group are not forced to be exclusively Waffen-SS all
of the time. Occasionally, one may want to re-enact from a different perspective,
and our group offers that flexibility.
Finally, we never use the German raised arm "Heil Hitler" salute or anything that can be construed as being political. That aspect of the time period and of Nazi Germany is of little interest to us as a whole. In an abstract sense, if one were to think of what we are doing as being a "real-life" video game. To follow that train of thought, one may choose to "play" the German forces in a video game and not be thought of as a closet Nazi. We also would like to think that same logical, reasoned approach is extended to us.
In a nutshell, we are not even close to being Nazi's in real life, and if the 4th Reich is pinning its hope on us and other German reenactors, well, they will be sadly disappointed.
Yes, rest assured, we have no political agenda or revolutionary goals. We are a group of individuals that tend to have a similar background: An intense interest in WWII, lots of reading and knowledge on the subject, a yearning to keep this fascinating piece of history alive, and a desire to understand a bit more about it from a first-person perspective. Again, we are no more anti-American then say a Confederate Civil War re-enactor, or a Red Coat re-enacting the American War of Independence. It is a hobby, not a way of life, and the hobby requires that both sides of the conflict be represented. Simple put, you can't play "Good Guys" and "Bad Guys" with only the "Good Guys" being represented. As for the swastikas, they are there strictly for historical accuracy, not glorification of the Third Reich. Remember, this was the symbol and flag of the Third Reich, and would adorn uniforms and equipment the same way the American star and American flag would adorn US uniforms and equipment. Still concerned about our intentions? Come out and meet us face to face at our next event and judge for yourself. Speak with us before making up your mind, and you'll see that we pose no threat and wish no ill will towards either this country or anyone living here. Please see our "Events" calendar for a list of upcoming events that members of the group will be attending.
No one denies that the Third Reich committed numerous crimes against humanity. No one denies that some Waffen-SS soldiers committed war atrocities against civilians and POW's and combatants. However, we are portraying the combat element of the SS, and not the Totenkopfverbande, or "Death's Head Unit" that ran the concentration camps, or the Allgemeine SS, the main part of the organization typified by the black uniforms and peaked caps. We represent the ground combat element of the organization, not the groups that by and large carried out the work of the Holocaust.
All kinds. Blue collar, white collar, and no collar. We have members that work for Fortune 500 corporations, and members who work for their own small business, and members somewhere in between. We have members who are single, and some who are married with children. We have young folks and more mature folks. We have a good mix and cross section of the population. Mostly, we're average folks who have a hobby that is a bit unusual.
Our group portrays the 9th Waffen-SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen. It is
broken down as such:
9th-They were the 9th Division raised to be part of the Waffen-SS.
Waffen-German for Armed, or Fighting.
SS-SchutzStaffel, or Protection Guard. This was Hitler's personal bodyguard and his administrative organization for the Third Reich.
Panzer-German for Tank or Armored. The division had 2 Battalions of medium tanks assigned to its Table of Organization and Equipment.
Division-It was a full division, employing armored, motorized, reconnaissance, artillery, infantry, service, and maintenance organizations. Full compliment was about 13,000 men, and about 130 tanks.
Hohenstaufen-Most of the German SS Divisions were named after some historical German icon, and the 9th Waffen-SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen is no exception.
Briefly, Hohenstaufen was a prominent royal family and king in Germany's medieval history, and during his dynasty many of the legends of German folklore were born. In German culture, names like Hohenstaufen, and Friedrich Barbarossa resonate with the same popularity and familiarity as George Washington or Davey Crockett in our American culture. They reflect an historical link to the past.
Ideally, a candidate will embody the following elements:
1. We are looking for enthusiastic individuals who wish to make a positive contribution to the unit, the hobby, and history.
2. We look for candidates who are serious about joining a unit with very high authenticity standards.
3. We seek members who are never "content", but rather who strive to create a better personal impression, and collectively, a better unit impression.
4. We seek "do-er's", self motivated folks who are willing to participate equally in both the fun and not so fun aspects of the hobby. Make no mistake, a lot of work, time, effort, and money go into a making the hobby a success. Since this unit has vehicles, membership comes with the acknowledged awareness that assistance is required in this regard. These vehicles require maintenance, and we have a number of "work parties" throughout the course of the year to assist the owners of these vehicles in the maintenance and upkeep of these machines. In addition, assistance is needed in loading and unloading of them from the trailers that bring them to and from the events. Finally, work is needed before and after events to set up the vehicles for action, and then to break them back down for transport away from the event.
5. in addition to vehicular duties, when we set up a base camp, we need folks to help in various chores, such as gathering firewood, making a fire pit, setting things up, making a beer or gas run, etc.
6. Likewise, we always need folks to assist in the clean up procedure as well. We are not looking for folks to show up just before a battle begins and take off as it ends. That does not build unity, nor does it show respect for your fellow unit member. It is not fair that the same members are consistently stuck doing the less glamorous parts of the hobby, because there is plenty of work to go around. Understandably, we all have lives outside the hobby that may require you to leave early or arrive late. We expect this to be the exception, rather then the rule.
7. Finally, we are looking for folks who are serious in their approach. Again, we recognize that this is a hobby, and we realize and encourage that you have lives outside of it. However, we do ask that if you make the commitment to join, you do so with the intent of being a serious, productive member of our group. That means you make the commitment to:
i. Make unit meetings when they are called.
ii. Keep you dues up to date.
iii. Attend as many events as possible.
iv. Take pride in the unit and make effort to make it the premiere unit in the hobby.
v. Do not only what is asked, but volunteer for additional responsibilities.
vi. Work to make your impression, uniform, and equipment as correct as possible. We are a fun group, and we are pretty easy going, but we do request that you approach membership with the proper mind set. Too many folks are dreamers, excuse makers, and BS 'ers. The unit's members have invested a lot of time and money, and we have no time or patience for anything less then the best. We're not a beer-drinking club that likes to play dress up and burn powder-We want members, not fringe-associates!
• You must be at least 18 years of age.
• You must be legally capable of owning your own firearm.
• You must actually own your own firearm.
• You must provide your own transportation to and from events.
• At events where food is not part of the registration package, you must provide your own food and drink.
• You must pay a one-time $60 initiation fee for entering the unit, and pay your full year's dues in advance.
• You must have the minimum "kit" to take part in exercises in the field. This kit consists of:
Correct SS uniform
Belt with SS Belt Buckle
Bayonet and Frog
Gas Mask Canister
• You must be physically capable of withstanding the rigors of traipsing around the woods with your gear on.
• You must wipe your own nose when you sneeze. You must have a thick skin, because you WILL get ripped on at sometime for something. You must want to have a good time and like to laugh and be part of the group. In essence, you need to have a mature outlook on things and be responsible for ensuring your situation is squared away.
• Our unit fields some very unique vehicles. Most units DO NOT have a single vehicle. Simply put, our "toys" allow us to say that we can portray almost every combat arm of a WWII German Panzer division.
Our current vehicle inventory includes:
1 Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) Replica mounting a 75mm Cannon.
1 251 / 9 Hafltrack (Stummel), mounting a 75mm short barreled gas powered cannon. It is a converted Czech Tatra OT-810.
1 Sd.Kfz. 222 scout/recon car, mounting a 20mm gas powered cannon and a gas powered MG-34. This is a replica vehicle.
1 1944-dated ORIGINAL Kubelwagen
1 Kubel-car Kubelwagen Replica
1 KDFWagen (Coming Soon)
3 1941 3-Ton Ford Trucks - Yes, the Germans used Ford Trucks!
1 Mercedes-Benz Staff Car
Several BMW motorcycles w/sidecar, Some mount gas powered MG-34s. One is an original R-12. One is an original R-71. Others are Chinese Chiang Jang's converted to look like wartime BMW's.
2 Pak-36 37mm Anti-tank Guns, 1 Original, 1 converted from 1940's dated Russian 45mm ATGs.
In addition, we have an American M3 Halftrack, and 2 American Willy's jeeps.
The 9th Reenacting Society has a limited number of positions available in our Youth Program for boys ages 16 & 17. In this program, interested, motivated young reenactors will be allowed to attend select events in non-weapons carrying roles, designed to safely allow them to learn about the time period and to experience the hobby. Participants are screened for suitability, and parental involvement in the process is mandatory. If interested, please drop us a line.
• We are a
good group of people that are able to straddle the line between a serious
hobby and a fun time. Some groups seem too rigid in some areas,
and they suck the life and fun out of the hobby. Others are too lax, allowing
all sorts of inappropriate behavior and corner cutting. We're positioned
nicely between these extremes-We strive for high authenticity while having
a good time.
• We strive for the highest levels of authenticity, and because of this, some of our members have been used during photo shoots for publications such as Militaria Magazine, Machine Gen News, and Cyrus A. Lee's Soldat Volume II, as well as several newspaper articles and commercial & news videotapes.
• Our commander is recognized for his talents and skill by often being named overall Waffen-SS and sometimes even overall Axis commander at events.
• We have access to some very talented and knowledgeable people to assist with questions and your impression.
• We are currently actively recruiting, and are looking for new members to assist us in the growing process.
• Finally, it offers you an experience unlike any other that lets you begin to understand the World War II experience.
To understand more about us, please request to review our unit handbook, available here.
How do I join your unit?
PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION IN ANY CORRESPONDANCE WITH US. WE WILL GET BACK TO YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
All text and images ©1998 - Present by The 9th Reenactment Society, except where noted*
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