Bintel Blog

Pat Buchanan, Hitler, a Bodyguard and a Jewish Wife

By Dan Friedman

The day after Pat Buchanan wrote, ignoring inconveniences like historical fact and political precedent, that Hitler probably didn’t want to fight Europe and that World War II was probably Winston Churchill’s fault, comes the revelation that Hitler’s bodyguard was married to a Jewish woman.

Steve Rosenberg, writing from Germany for the BBC, talked to Brigitta Jacob-Engelken whose father, now 92, is still alive. Her father has always denied his wife’s ancestry but “Brigitta learnt Hebrew… spent time on a kibbutz in Israel. Back in Germany, she made a career as an architect. Among the projects she worked on were the restoration of local synagogues.” There are good things, she says, about having a father who worked in the final bunker, at least she knows for sure Hitler was killed — “My father is someone who can say ‘I’ve seen him dead!’.”

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Inglourious References

By Dan Friedman

Roseanne Barr as Hitler, Quentin Tarantino trailing a (satirical) Nazi recruitment film and now Rush Limbaugh says that President Obama’s logo is Nazi-like and that the Democratic party has some similarity of issues.

Hello? People?

Didn’t you read The Polymath talking about “how easy it is to use the Holocaust as the ultimate cheap shot: the surefire way to get kids’ attention, get your book published and score points for piety when all else fails.” Once you invoke Hitler you’ve pretty much given in.

And, if that’s taken down, you can judge for yourselves whether the matter is sufficiently or suitably ironized on the QT at the website of the film within a film, Stolz Der Nation.

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Type Has Something to Say

By Dan Friedman

Fact One: People seem to have a lot more time on their hands than me.

Fact Two: Hitler is an excellent object of fun.

YouTube offers almost infinite testimony to those facts. One of the cult memes currently infesting the internet video portal is a series of alternative comedy subtitlings to Oliver Hirschbiegel’s 2004 drama Der Untergang (The Downfall) — no, I’d never heard of it either.

This one (Hitler Gets a Cheap Font CD), although employing strong language that we would not tolerate here at the Forward, upholds the premise of our current article, A Bubbling Font of Creativity: Oded Ezer and His Hebrew Designs that typography is something more than just pretty letters, but is an inherent part of the design process.

This one (Hitler Finally Declares War on Hitler Parodies) is just as potty-mouthed as its earlier counterpart but funnier maybe because it is consciously part of the meme, self-reflective and sensitive to the action of the original film. It bears more relation to our other current piece, Sex and the Shoah, Through Survivor and Sons insofar as it asks how we, in the 21st century, should relate to the Nazis.

Insofar as the delightfully named AlbertHallProds (a reference, no doubt, to the wartime song which proposes the Albert Hall as a location for Hitler’s testicles) answers that question, he tells us that guerrilla subtitling should be undertaken only when it will be very, very funny indeed. Otherwise video posters will pay the ultimate price.

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You Might Also Like ... Hitler Up Close

By Nadja Spiegelman

Photographs of Hitler that were literally buried underground are now available in snappy bright albums on Life Magazine’s Web site. Four themed Web galleries (intimate portraits, Hitler among the crowds, Hitler’s interiors, and Hitler’s childhood) contain images by Hitler’s personal photographer and close friend, Hugo Jaeger. The Web site is somewhat hard to navigate — reaching the end of one Web album prompts the disconcerting automated suggestion, “You might also like: Hitler, Up Close” — but the photographs themselves and the captions that accompany them are well worth the effort. Jaeger was among the first to pioneer the technology of color photography and Hitler once said, “The future belongs to color photography.” In this case, color photography owns the past as well. There’s something undeniably jarring about seeing Hitler’s ruddy pink cheeks rather than the usual grainy grey skin tone of the old textbook images.

The color also gives us unique insight into Hitler’s abysmal interior decorating skills. One image shows dining room tables piled high with sickly pick and green flowers and nearly every interior showcases floral patterns and gold chandeliers. A photograph of an indoor swimming pool on Hitler’s cruise ship shows a crudely painted mural of three naked women riding a grinning whale. It might just be the quality of the film, but everything looks sappy and sticky, even mawkish. It’s certainly not the harsh clean decorating you would expect from such a man.

The story of how the photographs surfaced is just as alluring as the pictures themselves. It was 1945 and the Allies were making their final push towards Munich. In a small town to the west of the city, Jaeger stood nervously by as six American soldiers searched the house in which he had been hiding. The soldiers found a leather suitcase and gathered round to open it.

Jaeger’s heart must have pounded as they undid the clasps: Inside the suitcase were hundreds of color transparencies that proved Jaeger’s close relationship to the dictator. The soldiers threw open the suitcase with a shout of surprise. They had discovered a bottle of cognac placed on top of the incriminating images. They forgot to keep searching and instead they shared the cognac with Jaeger and the owner of the house. His life narrowly saved by his alcohol, Jaeger didn’t risk getting caught again. He packed the photographs into 12 glass jars as soon as the soldiers departed and buried them on the outskirts of town. He came back to check on them several times after the war, digging them up and reburying them each time.

He finally brought them to America in 1955, where he placed them inside a bank vault. Ten years later, he sold them to Life magazine. Only a small fraction of the 2,000 photographs in his collection have since been published. Now, for the first time ever, 51 of those images are available online.

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Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hitler in Tel Aviv

By Gabrielle Birkner

In the second parking-related hubbub that has infuriated some Jews in about as many months, a YouTube clip that shows the likeness of Adolf Hitler enraged over a 250-shekel parking fine in Tel Aviv, has some Holocaust survivors up in arms. The parody, which borrows footage from “Downfall” — the 2004 movie about Hitler’s final days — shows the Nazi leader calling Tel Aviv’s municipal government “worse than the S.S.”

The Hitler of the parody goes on to complain to his deputies that “all of the money goes to this corrupted city council which for seven years is renovating the same meter-on-meter in Ibn Gavirol” — referring to a street in Tel Aviv.

And, don’t even get “The Fuhrer” started on the city’s public transportation system.

The clip, which contains an expletive, follows.

Haaretz is reporting that the chairman of the Centre of Organizations of Holocaust survivors, Noach Flug — himself a survivor of the Mauthausen concentration camp — wrote to YouTube demanding that the offending clip be removed.

In December, Facebook removed from its site the page of a group called “The Jew Parking Appreciation Club.” The group mocked with hateful language the way Jews park in a Sydney, Australia neighborhood.

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Man Beheads Wax Hitler

By Daniel Treiman

Reuters reports:

A man tore the head from a controversial waxwork figure of Adolf Hitler on the opening day of Berlin’s Madame Tussauds museum Saturday, police said.

Just minutes after the museum opened, the 41-year-old German man pushed aside two security men guarding the figure before ripping off the head in protest at the exhibit, a police spokesman said. The police were alerted and arrested the man.

The waxwork figure of a glum-looking Adolf Hitler in a mock bunker during the last days of his life was criticized as being in bad taste. A media preview of the new branch of Madame Tussauds Thursday was overshadowed by a row over the exhibit.

Critics said it was inappropriate to display the Nazi dictator, who started World War Two and ordered the extermination of Europe’s Jews, in a museum alongside celebrities, pop stars, world statesmen and sporting heroes.

Let’s just hope that this fellow doesn’t cross paths with any of these cats.

UPDATE: The Guardian reports that the wax fuehrer’s foes are celebrating the decapitation, while the German newspaper Bild is reporting that the wax Hitler — let’s call him “Witler” — has been flown to London, of all places, for repairs. (It would have been fitting if the RAF had intercepted his flight.) Madame Tussauds, for its part, is vowing to return “Witler” to its Berlin museum as soon as he is re-headed. Meanwhile, the museum seems to be facing possible legal action from another, much less genocidal former German leader: ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl, who reportedly said that he didn’t give permission for his wax likeness to be displayed.


This Week in Weird Holocaust/Nazi Imagery…

By Daniel Treiman

Brazilian Jews are angry at the Viradouro samba school for its plans for a Holocaust- themed Carnival float, complete with sculpted piles of dead bodies. The school defended its float.

Reuters reports:

“The float is extremely respectful, it’s a warning, it’s something shocking that we don’t want to happen ever again,” said Paulo Barros, Viradouro’s artistic director.

Viradouro’s parade theme is “Shockers” and it includes floats depicting the shock of birth, the shock of horror and the shock of cold.

Barrossaid the Holocaust float would be the only one without dancers on top.

“If we had people dancing on top of dead bodies that would indeed be disrespectful,” he told Reuters.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, Germany’s Green Party is using a picture of a cat that looks like Hitler to skewer extreme rightists. A poster featuring the cat Hitler says “you can’t always recognize Nazis at first glance.” Some were offended by the poster.

Ha’aretz reports:

The use of the cat was bemoaned by the Web site www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com on the grounds that the Green Party used photo manipulation to produce their “Adolf Kitler” rather of one of the site’s many authentic “Kitler” cats.

UPDATE: JTA is reporting that Rio Carnival parade organizers have banned the Holocaust-themed float.


Hitler's Secret Record Collection: Did the Fuhrer Dig Jewish Musicians?

By Alana Newhouse

Say what you will about Hitler, he apparently had better taste in music than previously assumed. ABC News reports: “A new chapter about Hitler’s taste in classical music has now been opened on reports that suggest the German dictator and Holocaust mastermind may have actually had an ear for the works of Jewish and Russian musicians.”

(Hat tip: Raphael Mostel)



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