In light of recent events surrounding the display of Nazi and Confederate symbolism by non-historic groups for the means of a political statement, the Ohio Valley Military Society has adopted a new set of rules for all of its shows (SOS, MAX, and Wilmington, OH) that will go into effect immediately. The following is the statement released by the OVMS on November 15, 2018:
OVMS SHOW RULES REGARDING CULTURALLY OFFENSIVE MATERIAL
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus is credited with the observation: “The only constant is change”. Societies evolve and change; it is inevitable. As collectors, we are concerned with studying and preserving historic artifacts of the past, but we are doing that within a modern culture that is now many generations removed from the heroes who defeated Nazi Germany. Artifacts which were once universally understood to represent their souvenirs of a defeated foe are now liable to be regarded with fear and suspicion, assumed to be regalia marketed to racists and bigots, and mere possession of such things is considered by many to be an outward sign of callous disrespect for the millions of innocent victims of the Third Reich’s racially-motivated atrocities and military campaigns.
As collectors and historians, we play an important role in the system which ensures that historic artifacts survive to illustrate our past, triumphs and tragedies alike, for generations to come. Collector shows where artifacts are exhibited, bought, and sold are a key component of this activity. Unfortunately, these are also quite vulnerable to genuine suspicion, alarm, and outrage when introduced to a public that includes a number of people completely unfamiliar with the practice of collecting historic military artifacts.
To help prevent such misunderstandings, the OVMS has adopted the long-standing rules originally introduced at the MAX Show many years ago by request of the venue and built on those with new regulations as appropriate to underscore the fact that collecting is a historical pursuit, not a political activity. Our goal is to properly place Third Reich items in particular within the historical context as souvenirs of a defeated foe and avoid situations where the display of these items could be misinterpreted as glorification. These rules do not exist to hinder your hobby of collecting original historical militaria – but to protect it. As an OVMS member, dealer, or public guest, your cooperation with these rules is sincerely appreciated… but it is also mandatory.
These rules will be strictly enforced at all OVMS shows.
1.] GERMAN WWII FLAGS: No original flag, pennant, or banner of any kind which contains a swastika emblem may be displayed on a pole, rack, cross pole, or by hanging it on a wall. Original German WWII flags may be displayed flat on a table.
2.] MODERN REPLICA ITEMS: No modern replica of any item which includes the swastika emblem or Confederate battle flag is permitted to be exhibited or sold.
3.] ADOLF HITLER BUSTS & ARTWORK: Busts and statues of Adolf Hitler may not be displayed upright and must be laid flat on the table. Original period paintings, prints, posters, etc. which feature Adolf Hitler, but might be subject to damage if laid flat can be displayed upright with the face of the subject covered (we suggest a cloth, towel, etc., but not anything with an adhesive backing that would damage the artifact.)
4.] UNIFORMS WITH SWASTIKA ARMBANDS: German WWII military and political uniforms that have as part of their insignia a swastika armband may not be displayed on a mannequin, half mannequin, dummy, and rack, or hung on a wall. They may be displayed flat on table. As with artwork, if damage is a concern, they may be displayed upright if the insignia is completely covered.
5.] WEAR OF GERMAN WWII EMBLEMS: Participants at all OVMS events may not wear uniforms or clothing that displays a swastika emblem. We realize that some of our members are WWII reenactors whose wear of these items is part of their living history activities. This is completely in context at a WWII reenactment, but not at an OVMS show. This rule also applies to WWII theme modern clothing (hats, t-shirts, etc.) that might include swastikas. Anyone wearing such a garment will be asked to remove it. If they do not, they will be escorted from the show, including any adjacent property such as the parking lot.
6.] KU KLUX KLAN MEMORABILIA: The sale, display and wearing of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) memorabilia, both historic and modern, is absolutely prohibited.
7.] EXTREMIST POLITICAL GROUPS: The emblems, uniforms and propaganda of actual modern extremist or “hate” groups are forbidden to be sold, displayed or worn at all OVMS shows. This includes, but is not limited to, groups such as the Aryan Nation, the Black Panther Party, neo-Nazis, the Antifa movement, the KKK, the Anarchist movement, racial or religious supremacists, and any other group the OVMS Board deems not in the interest of the society.
8.] CONFEDERATE FLAGS: Any modern or reproduction Confederate flags, posters, patches or other items displaying the same may not be displayed or sold at OVMS shows. Historic, original Confederate flags from the Civil War and their associated veteran organizations such as the United Confederate Veterans and the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy may be sold and displayed without restriction.
9.] ANTI-SEMITIC & HOLOCAUST MATERIAL: The sale and display of all original historic items, artifacts and propaganda, related to the Holocaust and anti-Semitism is especially vulnerable to extreme misunderstanding, and is thus prohibited except as part of pre-approved display in conjunction with or sponsored by a well-recognized Holocaust museum or related organization, and attended by abundantly clear signage placing it into proper context.
10.] SITUATIONS NOT COVERED ABOVE: In addition to these rules, situations are bound to arise which might require an on-the-spot call by an OVMS officer. OVMS members, dealers, and public guests are required to comply with those decisions. The display, sale or wear of any other items determined by the officers of the OVMS to not be in the best interest of the show is prohibited.