BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Hitler, the comic strip

"... and I'm the Emperor of China. Travelling without a ticket will cost you 60 marks. Final."
By Rob Broomby in Berlin

The English-speaking world has always poked fun at the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

From Charlie Chaplin's classic film, the Great Dictator, to the Mel Brooks' 1968 comedy, The Producers, 'Der Fuehrer' was a butt of jokes for Anglo-Saxon audiences.

But until now Germany's post-war generation, determined to confront their war-time legacy, has not been able to raise so much as a smile.

To laugh at the Fuehrer had been traditionally seen as diminishing the crimes of the past.

It was NO laughing matter.

Now a German satirical cartoonist, Achim Greser, has tried to break the mould, with mixed success.

In the book, 'Der Fuehrer privat' or The Leader in Private, 42 cartoons attempt - not always successfully - to use the tool of laughter to belittle the war-time dictator.

In one cartoon, Hitler is seen urinating against the wall of his alpine retreat as his alsatian dog, Blondi, looks on.

The caption reads, "Let me make it clear once and for all, Blondi: this is my territory".

Dr Norma Drimmer, President of the Jewish Cultural Association, is not against the idea of making fun of Hitler in principle.

"Political cartoons are always possible," she said.

"But it's a delicate subject to be handled carefully."

'Can one laugh at Hitler?'

The book, published by the Berlin-based publisher Editions Tiamat, prompted Die Welt newspaper to ask: "Can one laugh at Hitler?"

The answer must be - only if it is funny. Sadly often the cartoons are not.

In more dubious taste, Hitler is seen hammering the last piece of a jigsaw bearing the face of Hermann Goering into place.

He utters the words, "I imagined the final solution differently", a caption likely to offend many survivors.

Lothar Evers of Germany's Association for the Victims of National Socialism has been a long-time campaigner for compensation for survivors of Nazi slave-labourer programmes.

He said that it was not "completely impossible" to make fun of the Nazis but "so far nobody had done it successfully".

He is particularly critical of the jigsaw cartoon.

"Generally it was possible to satirise Hitler but it was wrong to use the Holocaust as a punchline".

But he said he opposed a ban on the cartoons' publication as he said that it showed a younger generation were finding their own approach to Hitler.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

27 Jun 00 | Americas
Allies failed to warn Italian Jews
08 Jun 00 | UK
Fresh look at Holocaust
11 Apr 00 | Europe
Holocaust revisionist sentenced
11 Mar 00 | Europe
Auschwitz doctor escapes trial
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories