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War Jokes: Humor In Hitler's Germany

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posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 10:58 AM
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Ever notice that in movies as well as TV that no one was ever allowed to poke fun at Der Fuehrer or his gang of thugs during the Nazi reign? Always thought it was an accurate portrayal of the situation.

Guess I was wrong.

There were lots of jokes about Germany's leadership during their reign. What's more, author Rudolph Herzog has put together an extensive collection of such jokes in his book "Dead Funny - Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany".

Why would this seem important?

From the author...


They [the jokes] give a rare glimpse of what was going on in the Germans' hearts and minds during this darkest chapter of their history. Whereas other documents from the Third Reich are poisoned by propaganda or tainted by other forms of spin, these testimonies ring true. By describing how and why people laughed during the Third Reich, I examined the sensibilities of the German people, and all of the changes to which those sensibilities were subject, during the 12 years of Nazi dictatorship. Among other things, what becomes clear is that the Third Reich was not nearly as monolithic as the makers of contemporary newsreels liked to depict it. Nazi society remained heterogeneous, influenced by very diverse interests, frustrations, worries and fears, all of which were reflected in the humor of the time.


Interestingly enough, the author clarifies that the Nazi's were indeed pretty much okay with this. Initially anyway; later not so much.

The reason for the leadership allowing such blatant disrespect?


Contrary to a common myth, targeting Hitler using quips and jokes didn't undermine the regime. Political jokes were not a form of resistance. They were a release valve for pent-up popular anger. People told jokes in their neighborhood bars or on the street because they coveted a moment of liberation in which they could let off a bit of steam. That was ultimately in the interests of the Nazi leadership. Consequently, the Führer and his henchmen rarely cracked down on joke-tellers and if they did, the punishments were mild - mostly resulting in a small fine.


However, as the war degraded for the Nazi regime, things took a much darker turn...


In the last phase of the war when the regime felt threatened by "dissenters," though, this changed. A handful of death sentences were handed down to joke-tellers, though the true reason for this was rarely their actual "crime." The jokes were taken as a pretext to remove blacklisted individuals - people the Nazis feared or detested because of who they were rather than because of what they had done. Among others, these included Jews, left-wing artists, and Catholic priests. As I show in my book, a staunch party member could walk free after telling a joke, whereas a known "dissenter" was executed for exactly the same quip.


So, here is a small sampling from the article along with an "explanation" of the significance during this time:


1 - Hitler visits a lunatic asylum, where the patients all dutifully perform the German greeting. Suddenly, Hitler sees one man whose arm is not raised. "Why don't you greet me the same way as everyone else," he hisses at the man. The man answers: "My Führer, I'm an orderly. I'm not crazy!"

One of the first measures implemented by the Nazis was making the "Hitler salute" mandatory in public buildings. Many citizens didn't feel comfortable with the bizarre gesture and this is reflected in numerous jokes.

2 - The true Aryan is as blond as Hitler, as slim as Göring and as tall as Goebbels.

Many contemporary jokes center on the vanity and human weaknesses of the top brass, not on the fact that they were brutal killers.

3 - An adjutant bursts into Görings office: "The Reichstag is on fire!!". Göring checks his watch and says: "What, already?"

There was a widespread suspicion that the Nazis themselves had set fire to the Reichstag parliament in order to be able to blame it on their opponents.

4 - Two men encounter one another on the street, and the first one says: "Nice to see you out again. How was in the concentration camp?"
The second men replies; "It was great. Mornings we got breakfast in bed, with our choice of freshly ground coffee or cocoa. We did some sports, and then there was a three-course lunch with soup, meat and dessert. After that we played some board games and took a nap. And after dinner, they showed movies."
The first man can't believe his ears. "Wow! And the lies they spread about the place. Recently I was talking to Meyer, who also spent some time there. He told me horror stories."
The second man nods seriously and says: "That's why he got sent back."


Contrary what most Germans claimed after the war, many knew about the concentration camps as this widespread joke proves.

5 - [Hitler and Göring are standing atop the Berlin radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to put a smile on Berliners' faces. So Göring says: "Why don't you jump?"

A factory worker, Marianne K., was executed for telling this joke. Her husband had been killed in Stalingrad.

6 - If Hitler, Göring and Goebbels were on a ship in a storm and the ship would sink, who would be saved? Answer: Germany.

In the end, many Germans wished death to their leadership. Yet in this and other jokes it interestingly isn't a revolution that rids the people of the oppressors, but the forces of nature.

7 - What has gold in its mouth, silver in its hair and lead in its bones? A member of the Volkssturm.

On September 25, 1944, Hitler was forced to call up a "Volkssturm," or "popular offensive." This pathetic militia consisted of Hitler Youths and of men up to sixty who had previous been deemed unfit for military service.


Perhaps pertinent to today's climate or maybe tomorrow's , this lesson should be remembered:


As the [above] samples show, the "ridiculous Führer," stripped of his imperial posturing, was by no means a post-war innovation. Enough caricatures exist from the early years of Nazism that depict Hitler as loudmouth buffoon and a tin-pot dictator. The many disrespectful jokes about the Nazi Party leadership that circulated during the Third Reich also support the conclusion that Germans were by no means unwilling victims of propaganda. Great numbers of people back then saw through the swindles cooked up by Goebbels and consorts. Sadly, that did nothing to alter the fact that, in the course of a few years, Germany was thoroughly drawn into the terrible whirlpool of Nazi crimes.


War Jokes: Humor In Hitler's Germany

Did any of this surprise you? It sure did surprise me.

Cheers!

MODS - Cannot determine an appropriate Forum, as this is not meant as a "joke" or "pun". Rather it is meant to shed light upon the attitudes of an oppressed people during a terrible time. Please feel free to move accordingly.







edit on 21-8-2012 by Hessling because: Forgot original link




posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 11:48 AM
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Very interesting.

Thanks for posting this



posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 01:37 PM
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reply to post by Hessling
 


I found this most interesting. I am trying to think of what kind of jokes are current in the political picture, but can't think of any. Executed for telling a joke? Wow.



posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 02:16 PM
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It's interesting that the Fuhrer salute was made compulsory in public buildings and that this was the cause of alarm amongst some people. Also interesting to me was learning that many people knew about the death camps, it just wasn't much spoken about in public at all.

That rings true, we had a family member, long since passed, he must've been my great uncle or great great uncle, he was there when the British liberated a death camp ... strange, I've never once considered this before, a relative of mine helped liberate a death camp ... wow ... anyway, from word of mouth passed down through the family, he wanted it known that "they all knew" about the camps i.e. the local German civilian populations, that there was no way whatever they didn't know. That they saw it, they heard it, they smelled it, that they must've known about it for years then ever so conveniently "knew nothing about it". You wonder how some people could live with such knowledge.

Thank you for a very interesting thread.



posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 05:56 PM
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reply to post by NorthernThird
 

It doesn't seem far-fetched to me that Germans knew about internments caps in Germany, any more than North Americans knew of the existence of internment camps throughout their countries for the detention of Japanese and spies, etc. As for applying a title of 'death camp' wasn't that something that was done only after the war?

I'm not trying to derail here. I'm just trying to consider the most likely perception of the times probably was. I remember asking my older family members about the concentration camps in Germany, and all of them said they only heard about them after the allies liberated them. They learned about them through newsreels i the theaters.



posted on Aug, 23 2012 @ 09:32 PM
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Good read. S&F

Our Satirists are sometimes our greatest hope.

A little unintentional humor from the era:




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