The Shmooze

Vice Trades in March Madness for Hitler

By Anne Cohen

Who’s more worthy of Hitler-comparison, Joseph Stalin or Saddam Hussein? Voldemort or Satan? Bashar Al-Assad or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

These are the hard-hitting questions that Vice is setting out to answer. Forget March Madness. They’ve come up with Hitler Madness, the tournament to “officially determine the most Hitlerish person of all time.”

Per the rulebook:

Some who play the Hitler card are trying to be funny or controversial in order to get attention; others are just trying to say, “This person is very, very, very bad.” Usually, the comparison backfires horribly and the comparer inevitably has to issue a public statement that says something like, “That person who I said was like Hitler is very, very, very bad—but he or she is not Hitler-esque. I’m sorry.” A good rule of thumb is to never, ever call anyone Hitler, since you’ll end up apologizing and there are far more creative and specific ways to insult your enemies. (And anyway, Hitler is often just a generic term meant to connote ultimate evil rather than an accurate comparison with the real, historical German dictator.)

There are four categories competing, with eight contestants each: Dead People, Living Politicians, Not That Much Like Hitler and Non-Humans.

Who will take home the (not-so) grand prize? Make your picks here and find out.

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'Reich Friends' Re-Casts Sitcom With Hitler and Goebbels

By Anne Cohen

I was once of the mind that there is no such thing as a bad “Friends” mashup. I was wrong.

Behold “Reich Friends”, a spoof of the much-loved sitcom brought you by Spanish-language comedy collective Marca Blanca. Using historic footage of Adolf Hitler and his besties, Himmler, Goebbels, Göring and Eva Braun, the group recreates the opening credits, complete with “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts (you probably know it as “The Friends Theme Song.”)

Hitler’s Bavarian retreat, The Eagle’s Nest is the new Central Perk. In the wise words of Chandler Bing: Could this BE any more offensive?

[h/t A/V Club]

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Tila Tequila Banned From Facebook

By Anne Cohen

Did you think Tila Tequila had come to her senses and deleted her Facebook rant defending Hitler?

Wrong. The D-list celebrity was banned from Facebook for 30 days and her previous entries removed from the social media platform.

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Mercedes Angry at Hitler Run-Over Video

By Anne Cohen

Mercedes is less than pleased with a student-filmed phony advertisement depicting a young Hitler getting run over by a C-Class luxury sedan.

The video, filmed and released by German film school students for a competition sponsored in part by Mercedes-Benz, shows the car meandering around an Austrian village — Hitler’s hometown. We see the car break for two little blond girls who scatter out of the way before the engine revs up again, and the vehicle plows into young Adolf playing further down the road.

The image of adult Hitler (what could have been) flashes for a split-second upon impact, while the boy’s mother screams his name. “Detects dangers before they come up,” the end tag declares.

According to the Huffington Post, Mercedes spokesman Tobias Mueller, called the content “inappropriate,” and added that the company’s lawyers ordered the students to include a disclaimer noting that their video has absolutely no relation to their brand.

Asked about their project by the Independent, film students Tobias Haase, Jan Mettler, Lydia Lohse and Gun Aydemir replied: “Mercedes sells its cars on smart technology which prevents accidents. We wanted to pose the question of what might happen if technology had a soul.”

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Stephen Fry Calls for Sochi Olympics Boycott

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images
Stephen Fry

British actor and comedian Stephen Fry urged on Wednesday that Russia should be banned from hosting the Winter Olympics due to its repressive policies against gays and lesbians, the Mirror reported.

In an open letter to British prime minister David Cameron, Fry compared the victimizations of homosexuals Putin’s Russia to the treatment of Jews in Nazi-era Germany.

“I am gay. I am a Jew,” Fry said in the letter, posted on his website. “My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism.”

“Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian ‘correctively’ raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.”

He added: “An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 in Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere… in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like.

“At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world. He is making scapegoats of gay people just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it.”

Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies, introduced prior to the Berlin Olympics in 1936, put a “permanent stain” on the games,” Fry went on, explaining that the lack of outcry by the wider international community gave Hitler confidence. “What he did with that confidence we all know,” he added.

“The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad which provided a stage for a gleeful Fuhrer and only increased his status at home and abroad.”

According to the Mirror, a government spokesperson replied to Fry’s concerns, saying that the prime minister had expressed his concerns to President Putin in June. “We remain greatly concerned about the growing restrictions on LGBT freedoms in Russia and have repeatedly raised our concerns, including at the 2013 UK-Russia Human Rights dialogue in May.

“We are working closely with the IOC and the BOA to ensure that the Games take place in the spirit of the Olympic Charter and are free from discrimination.”

Read the full letter here.

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Hitler Appears in Shampoo Ad for ‘Real Men’

By Michael Kaminer

After refusing to yank an ad in which Adolf Hitler extols a shampoo brand’s masculine virtues, Istanbul-based advertising agency MARKA confirmed today that the commercial for Biomen “would not be aired again and had also been removed from the company‘s web site,” according to EuropeOnline.

In the commercial, which had aired on Turkish television, der Fuhrer gesticulates wildly while a gruff, dubbed-in voice harangues viewers that “If you’re not wearing women’s clothes, you shouldn’t be using women’s shampoo either. Here it is. A real man’s shampoo. Biomen. Real men use Biomen.”

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Hitler Bunker To Become Tourist Stop

By Renee Ghert-Zand

It looks as though there might be another site added to the Polish Holocaust tourism trail. According to Reuters, Poland is searching for someone to spruce up the Wolf’s Lair, in the northeast of the country, near the Russian border, and open it up to the public.

“Wolf’s Lair” was the code name for Adolf Hitler’s heavily fortified bunker complex, where Hitler and his top officers were protected from bombardment during Operation Barbarossa, otherwise known as the German invasion of Russia. The fortress, which was built in 1940-1941, had its own power plant and railway station. The German forces destroyed it as they retreated in early 1945.

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A Letter from Dad...on Hitler's Stationery

By Renee Ghert-Zand

CIA

Many of us have saved old letters and cards that were sent to us by family members and close friends when we were children. Some of us even have scrapbooks filled with old “Welcome Baby” notes and birthday cards that our parents compiled as keepsakes.

But only Dennis Helms has such a greeting written on Adolf Hitler’s personal stationery. The CIA recently acquired and put on display a note that Helms’ father, Richard (then an OSS officer) wrote from Germany to his three-year-old son back home on May 8, 1945 (Victory in Europe Day).

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Batali Bites the Banker Hand That Feeds Him

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

You don’t have to be a fan of the U.S. banking system to realize that credit default swaps are not the same as gas chambers and the gulag.

Or so you would think. But celebrity chef Mario Batali evidently doesn’t see that distinction, having compared American bankers to both Hitler and Stalin while participating in a panel discussion yesterday about Time magazine’s next Person of the Year.

“The ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys,” the TV chef and restaurateur remarked, in comments that were published on Forbes’ website. Asked after the discussion whether he stood by the statement, Batali told Forbes writer Jeff Bercovici, “Oh, that was just a metaphor.”

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Up for Auction: Hitler’s Reading Glasses, Cigarette Case

By Renee Ghert-Zand

The controversy about the sale of Nazi memorabilia continues. Just months after Josef Mengele’s diaries were purchased by an anonymous American Orthodox Jew who says he may loan them to Yad Vashem, and days after Hitler’s Gemlich letter went on display at the Museum of Tolerance, it has been announced that an auction of some of Hitler’s personal effects is set to take place this month in Germany.

Some are questioning the decency of private individuals benefiting financially from the sale of such items. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, reportedly called the auction “ a stain on modern-day Germany.” He was also quoted as saying, “As we at the European Jewish Congress try and preserve the memory and historic lessons of this dark period, these types of events are completely counterproductive and damaging toward educating younger Germans and Europeans about the Holocaust.”

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Hitler's First Anti-Semitic Letter On Display in L.A.

By Renee Ghert-Zand

A letter typed and signed by Adolf Hitler in 1919, and thought to be his first written comments calling for the annihilation of the Jews, is now on display at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The document, known as the Gemlich letter, was purchased by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for $150,000 and revealed to the public this past June.

Hitler was a soldier in the German army when he wrote the letter. After being wounded during World War I, he was assigned to a propaganda unit in Munich run by Karl Mayr. Mayr asked Hitler to write a response to one Adolf Gemlich’s request for a clarification on the army’s position on “the Jewish question.”

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Hank Williams Jr. Dumped Over Obama Comment

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Be careful with those Hitler analogies, America.

Hank Williams, Jr., the guy who performs the “Monday Night Football” theme song, saw the anthem dropped by ESPN last night after he compared President Obama to the Nazi dictator on Fox News.

In an interview on “Fox and Friends,” Williams remarked that the recent “golf summit” between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner was “like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.”

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London: Stop Posing Next to the Wax Statue of Hitler

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images
A similar wax figure sits behind glass at Madame Tussauds Berlin.

Displaying a statue of Hitler strikes the Shmooze as an inherently bad idea — and sure enough, the one at Madame Tussauds in London is causing problems.

England’s Zionist Federation has asked the wax-statue museum to alter its Hitler figure, suggesting it be made to look more “vulnerable,” or posed in a way that prevents visitors from posing next to it.

The request comes after complaints by Israeli tourists who were upset to see other Madame Tussauds visitors giving the Nazi salute to the wax dictator. The Zionist Federation has made clear that it is not protesting the museum’s right to display a Hitler statue, but that it would prefer it be done in a different manner.

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Kanye West: ‘People Look at Me Like I’m Hitler’

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

A lot of people don’t like Kanye West — which apparently makes him feel like Hitler.

“I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street and people look at me like I’m [expletive] insane, like I’m Hitler,” the rapper and awards-show hijacker told fans last night at a concert in England. “One day the light will shine through and one day people will understand everything I ever did.”

The Hitler comparison drew “light boos” from the crowd, according to a write-up in Australia’s Telegraph.

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Lars von Trier’s ‘Melancholia’ Headed for Toronto Film Festival

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Good news for crazy Danish director Lars von Trier, who definitely doesn’t admire Hitler: his latest film, “Melancholia,” will celebrate its North American premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Toronto screening will offer something of a fresh start for “Melancholia,” which temporarily stole the show at the Cannes Film Festival in May, after von Trier said he “understand[s] Hitler” during a bizarre monologue that got him kicked out of the festival.

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A Luxury Tour of Hitler’s Old Haunts, Now Accepting Reservations

By Michael Kaminer

There’s nothing like a carefree luxury vacation where you visit Dachau, eat a Bavarian dinner at the beer hall where Hitler unveiled the 25-point Nazi party program, and drop by Wannsee, the elegant lakeside residence where the Holocaust was planned.

At least that’s the idea behind Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: The Face of Evil, an eight-day, $3,200 “historical tour” which “covers the entire sobering story of Nazi Germany — from the Nazi party’s birth in the smoky beerhalls of 1919 Munich to the Third Reich’s protracted death, amidst the ruins and despair of 1945 Berlin,” according to the website of U.K. tour operator Historical Trips.

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Are the 'Smurfs' Fascists?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

iStockphoto

Just as a whole new generation of kids is about to be introduced to those little blue creatures called Smurfs by a big Hollywood movie to be released this summer, a French writer and professor is warning parents that taking the tykes to the Cineplex might not be such a great idea. According to Antoine Bueno, things are not quite as they might seem in Smurf Village.

In this cute, imaginary, cartoon world, Bueno perceives a cover for a fascist, totalitarian state with racist, sexist and anti-Semitic practices and messages. Bueno is not the first to suggest such ideas, but until now, they were merely the rants of fringe voices from various corners of the Internet. With the professor’s publication this month of his “Le Petit Livre Bleu” (Little Blue Book), these theories appear to be going mainstream.

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A Talking German Shepherd?

By Michael Kaminer

So that’s what “master race” meant.

A new book contends the Nazis attempted “to breed an army of educated dogs that could read, write and talk,” Time reports under the surely unprecedented headline “How Nazi Scientists Tried to Create an Army of Talking Dogs.”

In Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, Cardiff University historian Jan Bondeson “mines obscure German periodicals” to discover “scientists envisioned a day when dogs would serve alongside German troops, and perhaps free up SS officers by guarding concentration camps.”
Hitler even set up a Tier-Sprechschule – “Animal Talking School” – near Hanover, Time reports, and recruited “educated dogs” from throughout the country.

“Teachers claimed a number of incredible findings,” says Time. An Airedale terrier named Rolf who could spell by tapping his paw on a board “mused on religion, learned foreign languages and even asked a noblewoman, ‘Can you wag your tail?’” Rolf apparently told his German masters he wanted to serve in the German army because he disliked the French. Another canine barked “Mein Fuhrer” when asked to describe Hitler, Time reports. “And Don, a German pointer, is said to have imitated a human voice to bark, ‘Hungry! Give me cakes!’ in German.”

“Part of the Nazi philosophy was that there was a strong bond between humans and nature. They believed a good Nazi should be an animal friend,” author Bondeson tells time. Perversely, when the Nazis started interning Jews, “newspapers were flooded with outraged letters from Germans wondering what had happened to the pets they left behind.”

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Director Lars Von Trier Apologizes, Says He's Not a Nazi

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

After causing a stir at the Cannes Film Festival this morning, Danish director Lars von Trier has issued an apology, clarifying that he is a weirdo — but not a Hitler-admiring weirdo.

The festival’s organizers also issued a press release, saying they were disturbed von Trier’s remarks — apparently poorly delivered jokes — that “I understand Hitler” and “I am a Nazi.”

The press release included von Trier’s apology, in which he wrote, “I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.”

The famously eccentric von Trier, the winner of Cannes prizes in past years for films including “Dancer in the Dark” and “Breaking the Waves,” made today’s comments after being asked about his family’s German background. (The director himself was born in Denmark in 1956.)

“For a long time I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew. Then I met Susanne Bier and I wasn’t so happy,” he said, referring to the Danish-Jewish filmmaker who won an Oscar earlier this year for the Danish movie “In a Better World.”

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Things That Look Like Hitler: Mustache Edition

By Nathan Burstein

As The Shmooze has already observed, the people of the United Kingdom have a habit of seeing Hitler in odd places — from the facade of Welsh houses to their own pet cats.

Wikimedia

Now a small-town politician has spotted the Nazi leader — or at least his mustache — on one of his own political posters, leading to a minor controversy in Pitcombe, Somerset, a hamlet west of London.

Town councillor Mark Beech complained to police about the poster, which featured his own face and was later adorned with a Hitler mustache by an unknown vandal. Using the Public Order Act as justification, investigators made “house-to-house inquiries” at each of the town’s 20 residences, the Telegraph reported, an investigation derided by locals as “an outrageous waste of police and taxpayers’ money.”

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