From Germany, a Comedy about Hitler
January 24, 2007
“Did you know they’ve been laughing about Hitler in Germany?” asked the publicist.
“Now?” I responded. “No, I didn’t. They ribbed him quite a bit until he took power in 1933, and they still did once in a while later in the 30’s. But they had to be careful.”
“This is different. They’ve made a movie comedy about Hitler.”
“Considering the war and everything, I hadn’t expected it.”
“I’ll send you some links. Read ‘em and get ready. You’re going on KNX News Radio tomorrow.”
“It’s a 50,000 megawatt station.”
“I’ll set my alarm.”
I read some reviews of “Mein Fuehrer – Truly the Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler.” It sounds like a slapstick depiction of a rather silly, bed-wetting Fuehrer but one that’s noteworthy as the first major German-made movie comedy about Hitler and, more so, because it underscores that in a new Germany the children of baby boomers, who in many cases were children of Nazis or at least those who acquiesced, have grown more socially relaxed. They’re also becoming darker and ethnically diverse. Two and a half million Germans, some three percent of the population, are of Turkish ancestry. And the half-million pre-Hitler Jews who flourished in Germany and were exiled and gassed down to a few thousand are now honored by a new and vibrant German Jewish community of two hundred thousand; that number will continue to grow.
More than six decades detached from Hitler and unburdened by guilt, quite a few young Germans are willing to joke about the previously unmentionable. And why not? The comedic material offered by Hitler and the Nazis should be harvested. His Thousand Year Reich lasted but twelve horrific years, but the clumsiness and perversities of the perpetrators will endure a millennium and more. Imagine the iron Fuehrer, symbol incarnate of power, groveling on the floor and begging women to kick and degrade him.
Picture an obese Hermann Goering, the Reich Marshal, shoving massive doses of codeine down his throat before applying makeup and rouge and staggering as he donned another garish uniform decorated with unearned medals. Look at clubfooted Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minister no taller than a dwarf with a twisted mouth, using his coercive power to bed many of the beauties of German cinema and society. Think about the chinless Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuehrer SS and therefore direct head of the Death Camps, who in a sane society would’ve been a street sweeper. And don’t forget Julius Streicher, the obscene, whip-wielding district leader of Nuremberg who in that beautiful city after the war scored lowest on IQ tests given all Nazis in the dock. His final words after climbing the gallows: “Heil Hitler.”