A photo of culinary personality and judge on the U.K.'s popular television program the "Great British Bake Off," Paul Hollywood dressed in a full Nazi uniform has caused considerable backlash in the country.
The photo, taken in 2003 in a pub called the White Stag in Monkton, was published by the Sun showing the television personality in a gray Nazi general’s uniform with a red swastika wrapped around his right arm and an iron cross hanging from his pocket. Pictured next to him is a friend dressed in similar garb with whom he attended the party together with their wives.
Representatives from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism told the Guardian, “Wearing these costumes for fun is an insult to the British soldiers and civilians who died repelling Hitler’s onslaught and the six million Jews and many others who were murdered.
"Following the very public disgrace of figures including Prince Harry and former-MP Aiden Burley over Nazi fancy dress, the debate on the acceptability of wearing Nazi uniform for entertainment is over. Whilst there are perfectly legitimate uses of such uniforms, for example in educational films or plays, it is offensive to use Nazi uniforms as party costumes. Nobody should find it funny to appear in public looking like Nazi war criminals,” the group said, adding the immediate apology from Hollywood showed no need to pursue the incident further.
Additional comments coining some of the baker’s favorite criticisms flooded Twitter, as fans of the show condemned the celebrity’s offensive choice.
“It’s tasteless and immoral as well as utterly stupid. It would have been worn by a functionary of the Nazi Party. That makes it a lot worse as it’s a political symbol rather than an army uniform,” said writer Robin Schafer, author of "Fritz and Tommy: Across the Barbed Wire."
“To them, it was a great big joke to be wearing a Nazi uniform, and they were laughing about it and happily posed for a picture at the bar. But some found it offensive — especially the fact they thought it was really funny,” a source told Sun reporters.
In Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe, swastikas are anything but funny. The use of Nazi symbols, paraphernalia or hate speech is classified as a criminal offense in Germany, while in Sweden, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Switzerland the Hitler salute is considered a hate crime and can result in fines or imprisonment.
“I am absolutely devastated if this caused offense to anyone,” Hollywood said. “The picture was taken 14 years ago en route to a comedy TV shows themed New Year’s Eve party and a group of us dressed up as characters from the classic TV show '‘Allo ‘Allo!' Everyone who knows me knows I am incredibly proud of the efforts of those, including my own grandfather, who fought against the Nazis during the war.”
Channel 4, the station behind the Great British Bake Off, a culinary competition series which draws bakers from across the United Kingdom, declined to comment on the incident, stating it was “a personal matter.”