D-Day would have been effected with far less trouble if, at the time, we had insisted on the same rules that pertain in Haworth’s annual commemoration of the event. The Yorkshire village holds what is now called a “1940s Weekend” – don’t mention the war – and people who wear Nazi uniforms, or the SS insignia, have been told that they are not welcome. This is because the uniforms “give offence”. Previously, people turned up dressed as Nazi soldiers and others as allied soldiers – much as actually happened the first time the event was staged, on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. But some people complained about the uniforms and so signs have gone up all around the town telling them they’re not welcome.
That’s what we should have done, back then. In fact as early as September 1939 we should have informed Hitler that his views gave considerable offence and that he would not be welcome here. Or, indeed, in Poland, France or Belgium. And if he persisted in wearing his uniform and doing that salute thing then we might hope that well known academics, left wing actors, philosophers and the writers of children’s fiction, such as Philip Pullman, would sign a strongly-worded letter to The Guardian expressing their outrage – and that, I’m certain, would have done the job, without all the nastiness that later prevailed.