Skip to comments.Germans learn to laugh at Hitler
Posted on 01/12/2007 10:55:27 PM PST by WesternCulture
Is it supposed to be part of the fun that the author of the text below is named "Rosenberg"?
Anyhow, the article:
"Germans learn to laugh at Hitler
By Steve Rosenberg BBC Berlin correspondent
Weekday evenings in Berlin are normally pretty calm affairs. But not this one.
He has put one finger under his nose like a fascist moustache, and has one leg raised in the air as if he is about to goose-step down the street.
This is not some kind of illegal neo-Nazi demonstration - it's the red carpet at a film premiere.
In the cinema behind, they are about to show Germany's first ever mainstream comedy about Adolf Hitler.
The film, Mein Fuehrer - the Truly Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler, shows a dramatically different image of the Nazi leader from the one Germans are used to seeing at their cinemas.
In one scene, Hitler, played by a top German comedian, is splashing about in the bath with his toy battleship.
When he is told there is a plot to kill him, he sinks under the suds.
This Hitler is a manic depressive, who is sexually impotent and wets his bed. He is reduced to a bumbling buffoon.
The film is written and directed by Swiss-born Jewish director Dani Levy.
"Making comedies about hateful people is weird! Usually you're making comedies about people you really love," he told the BBC.
"As a Jewish person who's been living in Berlin more than 25 years, I felt I needed a new approach, and create a comedy to deconstruct the Nazi figures, to have a better understanding of what made German people follow Adolf Hitler."
More than 60 years after his death, Adolf Hitler's murderous rule still feeds a sense of collective guilt, and collective responsibility in Germany.
But Germans are learning to laugh out loud about some aspects of the Nazi regime.
Last year Rudolph Herzog published a collection of Hitler jokes.
"In the 1960s, the younger generation - the sons and daughters of the perpetrators - were asking hard questions," Rudolph says, "and making jokes about the subject would have been totally inappropriate in their eyes.
"Now there's a new generation and I guess we have a more distant view. Without neglecting the horrors of what happened we can also see the ridiculousness of the top brass in this regime".
Back in the film, the crazy Fuehrer is in a flap.
Too depressed to give his big speech to the people, he demands that a former acting coach, who is Jewish, be brought in to help boost his confidence.
In this picture, Adolf Hitler comes across as a sick, weak individual, used by those around him.
Film critic Knut Elstermann believes that is a big mistake.
"As a viewer of that movie, I see Hitler as a child," Knut told me.
"He had a horrible childhood, so he is traumatised and I feel some pity for him. He is surrounded by horrifying creatures, like Goebbels and Goering, everyone is using him like a puppet.
"This is something I find quite dangerous, because Hitler is responsible for everything that happened in Germany, and especially the Holocaust."
As Mein Fuehrer hits cinema screens across Germany, what is interesting is that the debate here is no longer about whether it is right or wrong to laugh about Hitler.
Even local Jewish groups have said they have nothing against making fun of the Nazis.
The question is what kind of jokes and what kind of humour are appropriate, and - ultimately - whether the film is good or bad. And that's a sign that Germany is slowly moving on, out of the shadows of its Nazi past."
One would think this would be an impossible movie to make...and almost impossible to watch.
But I've seen the previews here in Germany...and its almost as good as Charlie Chaplins effort in the 1940 movie "The Great Dictator". This movie is almost like taking Larry, Curly and Moe....and injecting them into Nazi Germany of 1944. Of the six clips I've seen...Hitler appears the fool in each clip and they have you laughing.
A number of older Germans in the past 20 years have openly commented that in their youth of the 1930s...they really couldn't understand this national trend to follow Hitler blindly...that he often appeared like a fool in the speeches and the movies that came to every town's theater. The movie simply takes the next step.
I'll even add...this might make it to the Oscar list of 2008.
This is good news.
We here in my country have been laughing at Hitler and the nazis for years and nobody takes anyone seriosly that declares himself a nazi.
Maybe we don´t take this though seriously enough as the following story shows.
There ain´t many jews in Iceland, but of course children here know about the holocost and all that. There is a very old company here, shipping company, founded in 1919 (or 13) but that had been for long time dream of the nation, that until recently had as its official logo a blue swastica wich is an old nordic symbol as you all know.
This company had a very prominent house in downtown Reykjavík and on top of that is the swastica painted in blue, although very recently (few years) it has been covered due to PC. Once a group of schoolchildren, around the age 12 I beliewe saw a seemingly upset jew (as recognised by his distinctive head gear wich you don´t see here except in the movies) taking pictures of the swastica.
Some of the boys thought it funny that he was upset by this much older symbol than the nazi swastica (and rather distinct from it) and started goosestepping and giving him a nazi salute as a joke among themselves.
Of course it was propably out of line, but this shows how these events are far away from the children. Actually this jew wrote an article about this that was translated into Icelandic papers and it became a little bit of a fuss, propably helping the company taking the decison of changing the logo eventually (it had not used it prominently for long time), although that was more because of changes in ownership structure and such.
In the movie European Trip is a very funny schets about nazis and germany, a schets I wonder was propably not legal in Germany. I am a little bit perplexed that they can even show the nazi salute or symbols in their movies.
Lets hope this evil idealogy will newer gain prominence again.
You just mentioned it. (but I think you got away with it)
I think it is healthy to make fun of bad people up to a point. It is a mistake to give Hitler a super-human image because he did so much that was evil (although he was a super-villain). On the other hand, it would be wrong to trivialize the NS era (I am not suggesting that the movie trivializes it). The Nazi leadership was the world's ugliest freak show so satire is not out of place as long as people remember the real history.
Too late. It's called "Islam."
Do you think this movie can make people remember and wish to learn more about the real historical background to it?
The war in which people died.
Oh, then it can just be "Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, Afghanistan, Taliban, Iraq, Al Quaida, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq..."
And it isn't even Springtime.
Oh, then it can just be "Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, Afghanistan, Taliban, Iraq, Al Quaida, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq..."
- If only Saddam was still alive..
..feasting on his Pâté de foie gras and sipping on his Brunello di Monalcino 1952.
Skål from Viking Land to the Teutonians!
"And it isn't even Springtime."
(Cheers to Germany!)
And well it should. One really cannot overstate the role the average German played in helping Adolf Hitler rise to power. Recall what Einstein said:
He advised that SZILARD, while in Berlin, had been assistant to Professor LAUE at the University of Berlin. He said that Professor LAUE was a very decent man and that he is the only German he knows who behaved in an admirable way after Hitler's advent to power. (from Einstein's FBI interview: http://www.dannen.com/einstein.html)The only one out of what, hundreds upon hundreds of the Germans Einstein personally knew? One in 500, perhaps? And Albert Einstein knew "the best" of them. The percentage was far worse among average Germans.
It bothers me to no end that Germans are now able, and so eager, to make light of their crimes against humanity. How soon, and how conveniently, they forget.
If you haven't seen it, get a copy of Mel Brooks' "The Producers" where the main characters put on a play entitled "Springtime for Hitler." It's in the same hilarious mode.
I cannot help but wonder if the weight of the burden that present day Germans carry will eventually lead to a mass resentment similar to what followed WW1.
I don't know. I would hope that most people know the historical background. And I think the main reason this satire would be funny is because people who remember Hitler or know about him and hate him would enjoy watching satire in which a Hitler character is humiliated. I can't spit on his grave but I can laugh at jokes about him - that sort of thing.
''It bothers me to no end that Germans are now able, and so eager, to make light of their crimes against humanity. How soon, and how conveniently, they forget''
That's utter BS. Nobody - I know over here - wants to forget anything. But the real problem today are people like you, who are unable to differentiate, and try to judge people by their heritage, race or wrong deeds( supposedly or real) of past generations in a collective manner. This was exactly what the NAZIS did. What an irony!!
Don't cry about collective punishment. Collective punishment for collective deeds... Seems right to me. If you prefer, let's exempt the one German in a couple of thousand Germans who might have behaved admirably after Hitler's rise to power. That could well be you. But for heaven's sake, let's at least ostracize the rest. And that's all it is. It's not like we're throwing Germans into gas chambers.
By rights, every German should hang his head in shame for 50 million years. One year for every person who died in that war (and we won't mention Germany's earlier pogroms, for which there has NEVER been the slightest hint of personal or collective regret). That's not too much to ask, is it? If you take a life, throw a baby onto a bonfire, say, you should feel bad for at least a year because of it, shouldn't you? But no! Germans can barely muster 50 years of remorse for killing 50 million people and now actually want to make a big joke out of it.
''Is it ok to laugh about Hitler? Certainly, the guy was a cretin. Is it ok to make fun of the Holocaust? Personally, I don't think so, I found "La vita e bella" utterly tasteless.''
Personally, I agree to this as well. But living in a free society, we have to live with the fact, that other people have other ideas. And despite the fact, that they are not even of German nationality, we got the blame, as usual.
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