Prince Harry has suffered widespread condemnation for wearing a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party. Whilst defenders of the crown have advanced many explanations for this apparent lack of taste on the part of the third-in-line to the throne – the Prince’s ignorance of the cultural and historical significance of the jackboot and swastika, his political naivety, even that he was attending the party in the guise of his great-great uncle the Duke of Windsor – The Sleaze‘s investigations have revealed that, far from being a fashion faux pas, Harry’s costume represented the cutting edge of current youth culture. “Goth is dead – Nazi is in, man,” we were told by a nineteen year old Luke Punse whilst he queued – in full SS officer’s uniform – outside a club in Putney. “Everybody’s doing it now – it’s like a total statement of our opposition to social norms and outsider status.” Punse’s girlfriend, seventeen year old Alicia Blate – sporting thigh-length jackboots, Iron Cross and leather Wehrmacht officer’s cap – agreed: “Yeah, like the Nazis are just so rejected and ostracised these days, it’s just like the way society treats youth! Completely unfair!” The queue included several other ‘youth Nazis’ some, like Punse dressed in full uniforms – ranging from Hitler Youth to Afrika Korps, and including a group of young men and women clad in Gestapo-style homburgs, long leather coats, wire-rim spectacles and sinister black gloves – and others, like Blate, sporting ‘mix and match’ customised Nazi-themed outfits, combining a variety of uniform elements and regalia. Many also had shaven heads, whilst others had gone for the side-parting and a few had even applied a smudge of boot polish or mascara under their noses in imitation of the infamous Hitler moustache.
The Nazi influence continued inside, with hordes of uniformed youths forcing a change from the usual dance music standards to Marlene Dietrich numbers and fascist anthems. “It isn’t just the uniforms – it’s like a total culture, man,” explained Punse, shouting to make himself heard above the strains of Dietrich singing ‘The Boys in the Backroom’. “We’ve got our own music, even our own dances!” Punse and some of his friends proceeded to demonstrate these dance moves, strutting stiff legged about the dance floor, rhythmically raising their outstretched right arms. At one point they all balanced on one leg, jumping up and down with the other leg outstretched, before swapping legs and repeating the move, all the while chanting “Ein reich, ein volk, ein Fuhrer”. The night ended with over a hundred Nazi-clad young people pogoing up and down to ‘Deutscheland Uber Alles’, waving their right arms in the air and shouting “Heil! Heil! Heil!” as pictures of the Nuremburg rally played on plasma screens around the dance floor.
But exactly what is it about the twentieth century’s most reviled political regime which is currently attracting Britain’s angst-ridden and acne-riddled youngsters? Is it the political philosophy – a resort to extremism as a reaction to today’s bland political culture? Is it the image of power conferred by Nazi regalia – empowerment through an identification with totalitarianism? Or is it simply the lure of black leather boots, shiny badges and smart uniforms? “They were really stylish. Everyone says youths are scruffy, but when we wear this Nazi gear, they, like, can’t say that no more,” opines eighteen year old Will Kipper as, clad in a 1940s Luftwaffe uniform, he reclines in the corner seat of a Tooting coffee bar. “But it isn’t just the look, right? I mean, we’re not that shallow. It’s the whole concept, like. Everyone says how the Nazis were racists, right? But they were actually really inclusive – they let anyone in the party, no matter what they looked like. Fat gits like Goering, short arses like Hitler and even speccy scrawny bastards like Himmler. They weren’t body fascists, like!” Other denizens of the coffee bar echoed Kipper’s sentiments. “They were really into alternative philosophies, OK? They used the swastika as their symbol, and that’s some kind of ancient fertility thing – they were into the environment; trees, the outdoors and all that stuff,” sixteen year old Carmella Muff tells us. “I’ve read Hitler’s book about camping, and he goes on about the need for us all to have more personal space. Lebensraum, I think he calls it. I can so relate to that, OK? My parents, they’re always crowding me in, stifling my growth. I definitely need some lebensraum, OK!”
Much of the teenagers’ information on the Third Reich comes not from history books or documentaries, but from popular culture instead. “They were really into free love, you know,” claims Carmella’s friend Anneka. “I saw this film about it – they set up whole love camps where everybody, even the prisoners, got to shag all the time! They catered for everything, even really dirty stuff with whips and chains! It looked brilliant!” But what do they think about the atrocities of the holocaust? “OK, it was really, really wrong what happened to the Jews,” says Carmella. “But I can totally understand how angry the Nazis were – they’d been so oppressed and bullied themselves by the bigger countries after World War One, they were just lashing out. My parents once caught me smoking, OK, and sent me to my room – I was so totally pissed with them I beat up my kid brother. It was totally wrong, but after I apologised, my parents were totally cool. But the Nazis, they weren’t given a chance to apologise, or anything, were they? They were just given really biased mock trials and shot! So unfair!”
Should we be worried by our youngsters’ obsession with the Nazi creed and their distorted view of history? Professor Jerry Mire of East Acton College, and an expert on young British men, thinks not. “It’s just another passing fashion fad, like punk, new romantics, mods and rockers or Teddy Boys,” he declares. “They’re so ignorant of the actual historical origins of the movement that they’ve completely missed the racist and homophobic elements to it. After all, there haven’t been any mobs of SS-uniformed youths firebombing the Jewish community in Golders Green, have there? In fact, this new Nazi fad seems pretty multicultural – I’ve seen Chinese stormtroopers, Asian Gestapo agents and even a couple of Afro-Carribean Hitlers!”
Indeed, Mire believes that it is only a matter of time before the new Hitler Youth cult burns itself out. “It’s only a matter of time before someone stabs themselves with an SS dagger or dislocates their knee goose-stepping,” he sighs. “It was the same with that Frankenstein cult which followed the vampire thing – all those kids nearly bleeding to death after sticking bolts through their necks! And let’s not forget the subsequent Egyptian mummy thing – all those kids stumbling around wrapped up in bandages, tripping over and breaking their arms and such like! As soon as they start injuring themselves, the writing is on the wall! They’ll soon move onto something they think is less dangerous!”