Hitler ‘com­edy’ a hit in Ger­many

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY NAOMI FIRSHT

A CHART-TOP­PING com­edy film about Adolf Hitler wak­ing up af­ter a 68-year sleep in his bunker has sparked con­cerns that it has made the Führer seem more like­able.

Er Ist Wieder Da ( Look Who’s Back) knocked Pixar’s an­i­ma­tion In­side Out off the top spot in Ger­many and is based on the book by Timur Ver­mes that has sold more than 1.5 mil­lion cop- ies since its pub­li­ca­tion in 2012. The premise of the story is that Hitler sur­vives the war and ends up in present­day Ger­many with no knowl­edge of any­thing post-1945.

His big­oted rants are taken by some as a skil­ful par­ody of the geno­ci­dal dic­ta­tor and he even­tu­ally ends up with his own TV com­edy show.

The pop­u­lar­ity of the film has wor­ried ex­trem­ism ex­perts, how­ever. “Any hu­man­i­sa­tion of Hitler and de­hu­man- isa­tion of his vic­tims is dan­ger­ous,” said Pro­fes­sor An­dreas Zick of Biele­feld Univer­sity, an ex­pert on right-wing groups.

Re­cently, the coun­try has seen an in­crease in sup­port for far-right groups such as Pegida. Nearly 20,000 sup­port­ers took part in the group’s anti-im­mi­gra­tion rally in Dres­den in Oc­to­ber.

“We now have more peo­ple from the cen­tre of so­ci­ety, peo­ple who think they are tol­er­ant, nor­mal peo­ple, who are com­mit­ting hate crimes, throw­ing Molo­tov cock­tails at asy­lum cen­tres,” added Pro­fes­sor Zick.

How­ever, psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor Anna Baumert from the Univer­sity of Koblenz Lan­dau said there may be psy­cho­log­i­cal rea­sons for the film’s pop­u­lar­ity.

“First, the new film in­volves the break­ing of a ta­boo (pre­tend­ing to be Hitler in real life), which most likely trig­gers a small shock, in­ter­est, and af­fec­tive re­ac­tions in peo­ple.

“Sec­ond, hu­mour has been shown to be an im­por­tant psy­cho­log­i­cal re­source for hu­mans to cope with chal­lenges, stress and highly neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences, even trauma. So, one can spec­u­late that [the film] pro­vides a psy­cho­log­i­cal set­ting that al­lows peo­ple to deal with this oth­er­wise highly neg­a­tive theme,” said Prof Baumert.

The author of the book, Mr Ver­mes, said the dan­ger was not hu­man­is­ing the far-right dic­ta­tor, but de­mon­is­ing him. “Only if you un­der­stand that there was no mon­ster, can you ap­pre­ci­ate who com­mit­ted all those crimes: nor­mal peo­ple. Peo­ple like you and me,” he said.

A still from He’s Back

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