A Camden fancy dress shop has withdrawn from sale a Gestapo uniform after a query from Jewish News and a complaint by a Twitter user.
The issue was raised by Carly Minsky, who tweeted: “Hi @Escapade_UK I’m horrified that you sell a Gestapo costume literally describing it as ‘the most brutal organisation within the Nazi regime’. When my partner spoke to your staff, they dismissed his request to discontinue it saying ‘these costumes are just supposed to be fun’.
In another tweet, she added: “Also they said they didn’t put Rabbi and Gestapo costume next to each other (as if that’s one step too far but selling the costumes is fine). Less than 1 year later & they’ve moved the costumes next to each other.”
However, following JN’s call, Bhupendra Maisuria, the director of Escapade on Chalk Farm Road, told Jewish News that “in Britain we have a history of mocking dictators and through humour not forget the past or holding a grudge”.
Hi @Escapade_UK I’m horrified that you sell a Gestapo costume literally describing it as ‘the most brutal organisation within the Nazi regime’. When my partner spoke to your staff, they dismissed his request to discontinue it saying ‘these costumes are just supposed to be fun’ pic.twitter.com/H0jNH8Lcg3
— Carly Minsky (@carlyminsky) December 8, 2018
“This can be observed through Freddie Starr portrait of Adolf Hitler or John Cleese [don’t mention the war] goose step.”
However, he accepted that “context is very important when wearing such items and what is non offensive to one person can be highly offensive to another, as such we will no longer stock this item and deeply apologise to everyone who took offence.”
Oh wow my partner discovered that @Escapade_UK was already called out for this in Feb & they said no one had complained yet but if a Jewish person came in & complained they would apologise. Today we inadvertently put that to the test & their response was so far from an apology pic.twitter.com/zYAB6dgHa3
— Carly Minsky (@carlyminsky) December 9, 2018
Maisuria also noted that Escapade’s fancy dress shop “is in North London where we are proud to serve a large Jewish community. During Purim a Jewish holiday which commemorates the saving of Jewish people from Haman, some Jewish customers request this outfit reminding us that this sensibility is not lost.
Two other people (who I don’t know personally) have phoned up to complain and both were dismissed and/or laughed at by staff https://t.co/0xKXTfkWeF
— Carly Minsky (@carlyminsky) December 8, 2018
“Remembrance of Historical atrocities of the past is essential to ensure such ideologies fuelled by extreme nationalist views are not repeated in the future. The design of this costume was mindful to not including Nazi symbolism, but rather to serve as a mockery.”
Minsky told JN: “I’m very relieved that Escapade decided to pull the costume from their stock; while I am sometimes wary of mob mentality online, this was clearly a case where reasoned explanation alone had not been enough to convince the store’s staff that a Gestapo costume was unacceptable.
“I’m very grateful to members of an anti-racism Facebook group for immediately stepping up to apply more pressure. A number of them phoned the store to complain and told me they were also dismissed or laughed at.
“I really hope that the staff’s eventual decision wasn’t just a knee-jerk reaction to the public outrage and instead reflects a change of attitude and a commitment to educating their staff on why a Nazi costume is unequivocally inappropriate.”
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