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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 15:56 GMT
Goebbels comedy hits Germany
Goebbels und Geduldig
The film pokes fun at Nazi Germany
A comedy about Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels has hit German television screens despite concerns that it is trivialising the country's horrific past.

Goebbels und Geduldig was made two years ago and so far has only been shown at a film festival. It was broadcast during prime-time viewing on ARD TV on Wednesday.

The film centres on a Jewish prisoner called Harry Geduldig, who is the double of Hitler's spin doctor Goebbels.

Goebbels
Goebbels had his children poisoned

In the film, Harry ends up pretending he is Goebbels - while the Nazi propaganda minister languishes in a prison camp.

Goebbels as subject for a comedy film would once have been unthinkable but is now a topic young directors are keen to tackle.

Following Hitler's suicide, Goebbels poisoned his six children before ordering an SS soldier to shoot him and his wife Magda in May, 1945.

Debate

There is no shortage of American directors who have taken on Hitler but until now it has been a taboo subject for the Germans, embarrassed by the dictator and his henchmen's actions during World War II.

"We wanted to bring a breath of fresh air to the whole debate on the past and whether you can poke fun at the Nazis," the film's director Kai Wessel told the BBC's Tristana Moore.

"We wanted to experiment with a certain kind of laughter which is more risque."

In the film, Harry Geduldig swaps places with Goebbels, fooling nearly everyone, but he does not take on the might of the Nazis meaning there is no real political message being put across.

Historian Klaus Hesse is, like many Germans, worried that the film plays down the brutality of the Nazi regime.

"It could be a danger to trivialise a historic figure like Goebbels. He represented brilliance of power and also in one way represented brilliance of evil," he said.

A recent survey suggested most Germans think a TV comedy about Goebbels is inappropriate because its history still haunts its people.

See also:

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