Here is a quick rundown of the most common questions I get from non-reenactors about reenacting:
Q: Do you guys use real weapons?
A: In most cases, yes we do. However, some places we reenact have local laws that may certain types of weapons. In this case we use very realistic alternatives such as blank fire only or gas guns (which aren’t technically guns at all).
Q: Do you guys use real bullets?
A: We use blank ammo. It goes bang but there is no projectile. Real bullets would be a safety hazard.
Q: If you use blanks, how do you know when you have been hit?
A: It’s an honor system. During battle if you see someone aim at you and pull the trigger, you take a hit (pretend to get shot). The other way is if a judge or referee tells you that you are hit, then you are hit.
Q: Do you guys just “play army” and then go back to your tent/camp/barracks and hang out.
A: Sort of. We have two kinds of events (that sometimes mix). We have tactical events (a war game) and we have living history events. While we are at an event we try to keep things as if it were the early 1940’s from the time we set up to the time we leave, even when the public is not there. We strive to make it as authentic as possible. The clothes, food, material, cooking methods, we all try to keep 1940s.
Q: How do you know what it was like?
A: RESEARCH!!!! We read a LOT of books, talk to many people and as many WWII veterans as possible. The Vets are our best source of info.
Q: Are you allowed to wear ear protection during a battle or demonstration?
A: Yes! It’s personal choice. We do prefer that it be either period correct or as hard to see as possible (inner ear plugs as opposed headphone style).
Q: With your impression, how do you deal with the negative political, social, and wartime actions of those you portray?
A: With honesty. We don’t deny any facts from WWII. That would be against our purpose in the first place! We do like to expand people’s knowledge of the conflict and discuss it from all sides. The general attitude about WWII is “German = BAD = NAZI.” This is not the truth of how it was. Were there bad people? Of course. Lots of them. But most were averge people defending what they thought of as their homes, families, and way of life (mostly against Bolshevism). Stating that all Germans were NAZIs is like stating every member of the current US army is a Republican and they all support Trump. Most people don’t even realize it was a political party. Most people have no idea about the social and moral values of the day or how the average person received news and information. In today’s age of instant info and instant gratification it is sometimes hard to imagine what it might have been like back then.
Q: How does your radio play German music and news of the time???
A: Trade secret… ;)