Not a week goes by without a litter of Hitler references making the well-trodden journey from blockbuster movie, internet discussion, pop song, joke or advertisement to YouTube video parody, psychedelic meme .jpeg, sauna room chit-chat or Friday night back of the bus conversation broadcast. VICE's Daniel Erk knows this, which is why he writes a column called Hitlerblog for the German newspaper Taz. In it, he obsessively collects and classifies all those references into a horrible archive. He also just published his first book about Hitler's role in popular culture.
We're not sure if Dan is just a big Hitler fan, or, as is more likely, he wrote one piece about the Nazis years ago and has received a steady flow of Hitler-related commissions ever since, dragging him further into an inescapable netherworld of Nazi-related quips and Fuhrer themed one-liners. Are you asking us if he's become known throughout German editorial offices as "the funny Hitler guy"? Well, you've got to make a living somehow. Anyway, just for us, Dan has kindly gathered together his top five most surprising, tasteless and ill-thought-out Hitler/ Third Reich/ Holocaust clips.
Walt Disney: The Führer’s Face (1943)
Adolf Hitler: Ridiculous. Mussolini and Hirohito: idiots. The Nazis: laughable. The Germans: poor pigs. Everyone gets their share in Walt Disney's The Führer's Face. The Disney movie doesn't sugarcoat it and maintains a pretty accurate image behind the cute visuals: the crazy German war machine, the false slogans, the Nazi's police state; they really show everything. I almost fell off my chair the first time I saw this: I didn't remember Disney cartoons to be so political and poignant. I guess it's not the kind of clip they dig out for airing on the Disney Channel.
Saturday Night Live: What if… (1973)
When Dani Levy's movie Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler was released in theatres in 2007, it caused alarm in the culture sections of newspapers everywhere: "Is that really allowed?" nervous journalists asked their invisible ethical spirit-guides. "Is it OK to laugh about Hitler?" It was as if neither Mel Brooks' The Producers or those SNL jokes from the 70s had ever happened. The really wonderful and equally painful sketch What if… from '73 not only takes the piss out of the Nazi's paranoid anti-Semitism and ridiculous snappiness, but also shows up superficial American moral arrogance and the stupid ramblings of Nazi experts on TV. If any late-night comedian were to make the same kind of jokes on German TV these days, all of today's occasional anti-fascists would cry out loud.
Nazi UFO Commander: Sacrificial War (2006)
One of the most persistent and esoteric right-wing rumours about what happened after 1945 holds that the Nazis didn't just reach space with the help of their V2 rocket, but that they actually built spaceships. So called Nazi UFOs obviously never existed, but the story has developed legs anyway, and the Italian band Nazi UFO Commander are running with it. They explain their music like this: "Just a small percentage of the population has the great vision and hears the voice, because they are the only ones whose subconsciousness can enter the consciousness via wireless transmissions from the south of Neuschwabenland. Nazi UFO Commander must create a catalyst or the chaos of space, radio waves and electronics will reunite the depleted consciousness through selective listening." Netizens of the retarded Nazi discussion boards on the web suspect the music to be "NS-Industrial". But they don't have any idea what's actually national socialist about this crap. If you didn't get a headache from the band's name, their music will do the job pretty fast. Have nine minutes and 23 seconds of strange mumblings and noises, the sound of starting cars and a voice talking weird shit.
Slur: Hitler (2010)
Is this what DAF meant when they sang "Tanz' den Adolf Hitler"? Four Thai guys dressed in NS-like, black uniforms dance to a generic power-pop cross between the "Ketchup Song" and Tai Chi, performing the Hitler salute right before the refrain. Thai indie rock band Slur's song "Hitler" is a pretty classic case of hipsterdom + cluelessness + provocation equalsing maximum strange. Jonathan Meese couldn't have said it any better.
Kenny Hotz: Rememberance Day (2010)
Canadian comic Kenny Hotz is not famous for being very delicate. He wrote for South Park and ate puke and bird shit for his own show Kenny Vs. Spenny. This short recorded for Remembrance Day is pretty hardcore, tasteless and crass. It sees Hotz making fun of the electronic chain store sales events that seem to crop up around the war dead holiday. Hitler bombarding high prices in a fighting jet? A Holocaust sale? Hotz, who comes from a Jewish family, seems to be a bit obsessed with the Third Reich and its presence in the media. His new show is called Kenny Hotz's Triumph of the Will.
Get Daniel Erk's new book! It's called Soviel Hitler war selten. Die Banalisierung des Bösen oder warum der Mann mit dem kleinen Bart nicht totzukriegen ist. [Tr. En: As far as Hitler was rare. The banality of evil, or why the man is still hanging with the little beard.] Heyne Verlag, München 2012. 240pp. €9.99.