A few days ago we had a chance to visit an interesting mil-sim event that takes role playing to a next level. We were invited to the “Park of Military History” in Pivka, Slovenia for a reenactment type airsoft battle.A Slovenian mil-sim and reenactment team DTI (Društvo za Taktične Igre) organised the event in association with Airsoft Udruga WW2 Mutila from Croatia. Guys and gals at DTI have plenty of mil-sim and military experience (organisation and attendance wise) and talks for an airsoft oriented event at the Park of Military History started as early as 2012.DTI has quite a history in the airsoft scene itself and the people running the show strive to bring airsoft from the “playing soldier” level, to a high “military simulation” level. Their signature events like OPFOR only reflect that. They also visit many mil-sim events abroad, mostly Slovakia and this year Czech Republic. Some members of DTI got a first real chance to try WW2 airsoft reenactment in 2014, when they attended the military history festival. They went on to Croatia, which had a much more developed WW2 reenactment scene and participated in an event held near Pula in the spring of 2015.And this is where the whole Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia WW2 reenactment alliance story begins. Some people of course were collectors and enthusiasts before, but there never was an event big enough to pull them all together. Since then, some 10 bigger events were organised in Croatia and this one was the first in Slovenia. In autumn there will most likely be another one in Bosnia. Airsoft WW2 reenactment united both traditional reenactors and regular airsoft players, who were interested in the WW2 era.At this point i would like to take a moment and emphasize, that this hobby never has and never will revolve around politics. With reenacting these battles, no one is glorifying any of the sides. The point is trying to see the battles and important moments through the eyes of a soldier, caught in the midst of a nasty thing which was WW2. People doing this, do this out of respect for what actual soldiers went and still go through and are fully aware of many of the gory details, which shaped Europe as it is today. Not to mention, most of traditional reenactors collect and use equipment and weapons from all sides of the conflict. I remember a quote i saw on a statue of a prisoner, while visiting the concentration camp in Dachau and I think it could be applied to accurately describe this too; To honour the dead and to remind the living.Back to Battle of Crucifix hill, plans for this particular event started to take shape in 2016, when DTI attended a military history festival in the Park of Military History. With their expansion of the park they finally had enough space to accommodate such an event. They plan for even bigger things in the future which shows, that the interest for military history is rising.On Friday, some 50 people gathered for a meet and greet, which included registration of participants, a speaker with some appropriate War time era music and a barbecue. Highlight of the evening were three tanks, which were open and people could climb inside. Huge grins included.On Saturday the actual airsoft battle happened. First a standard briefing, weapons and gear check, then the tank rolled out. An M36 Jackson was fulled up and ready to support the US troops in the scenario that followed.The Battle of Crucifix Hill was obviously a World War II battle that took place on October 8th 1944, on Crucifix Hill (Haarberg, Hill 239), next to the village of Haaren in Germany and was a part of the US 1st Division’s campaign to seize Aachen, GermanyFirst task was to secure the access road and take out some AA installations, hardware for which was also supplied from the Parks inventory. With armor support, it was a swift action and soon the US found themselves attacking a German garrison. This re-spawn was interesting, as it was completed by a soldier building his own cross for a “grave”. This perfectly shows, how quick casualties amass when a position is overrun. A very “sobering” sight.While the US gathered intelligence and regrouped, the German forces have re-set their positions further up the hill. At this point, armor support ended so the US forces had to push hard through thick underbrush to reach the summit.Casualties were high on both sides so medics had their hands full. Like all participants, they try to simulate real situations and act accordingly. Their kit contains actual medical aid supplies and they have real life training to use them.The weather did no one any favours, as rain seemed to escalate its intensity along with the battle. The final push for the Crucifix Hill was made difficult by lots of rain and heavily entrenched German positions.
Eventually, after some really heavy fighting and some great feats of sportsmanship, the hill was taken by the US and the battle ended. Players exchanged some thoughts and retreated back to the hangar to dry their gear.On Sunday the battle was reenacted for the visitors. Players used the same replicas, only this time, without bbs. Matjaž Demšar (head honcho of DTI) guided the visitors during the battle with his trusty loud-speaker, describing and pointing out important details. First some tactical manoeuvres around barricades and the road, then the taking of the hill itself.During these manoeuvres, fellow reenactors have confirmed, that their knowledge of WW2 runs waaaay deeper than just the gear list and that they know exactly what they are doing. With excellent game play they also completed the general rehearsal for the next Festival of Military History, which will be happening in the park in September of 2017.Execution of this event was a major feat, so DTI cooperated with “Airsoft Udruga WW2 Mutila” from Medulin, Croatia. They are the leading group in organising such events in Croatia and have a huge enthusiasm for activities revolving around WW2 era. Currently they are cooperating with a museum in Medulin, fixing up an open air museum site in the context of existing structures.This whole event would not be possible without the Park of Military History and it’s personnel. So a big thank you goes out to the CO of the park mr. Janko Boštjančič, curators mr. Boštjan Kurent and dr. Martin Premk and of course to mr. Janez Prebil for the M36 Jackson action.
DTI would also like to thank Max Airsoft shop for main lottery prizes, Panter Airsoft shop with practical prizes for players, Adria Media for promotion, Adam Ravbar pub for their great brews, Krucefix for their products, Wild Dogs Airsoft Team for support and Airsoft Milsim and News Blog for airsoft media coverage and report.
As mentioned there is another festival of Military History in the works, so all history enthusiasts are welcome to visit the Park of Military History in Pivka between 16th and 17th of September for a dose of WW2 reenactment.
If you are an Europan group of WW2 reenactors and want to get in on the action, get in contact with DTI, as they offer a chance to be featured on the festival. Also if you are a lone wolf, trying to find a reenactment team, this is the perfect chance to meet new people and trade ideas.