Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany

Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany

by Rudolph Herzog, Jefferson Chase

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935554936
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Rudolph Herzog is a historian and filmmaker. His documentary on humor in the Third Reich, Laughing With Hitler, scored top audience ratings on German Channel 1 and the BBC. The son of celebrated director Werner Herzog, he lives in Berlin.

Jefferson Chase is one of the foremost translators of German history. He has translated Wolfgang Scivelbusch, Thomas Mann and Götz Aly, among many others.

Table of Contents

I Political Humor Under Hitler: An Inside Look at the Third Reich 1

II The Rise and Development of Political Humor 11

III The Nazi Seizure of Power 31

IV Humor and Persecution 81

V Humor and War 129

VI Humor and Annihilation 207

VII Laughing at Auschwitz? Humor and National Socialism after World War II 221

Notes 236

Works Cited 239

Index 244

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Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler's Germany 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Herzog takes an unexpected angle to explore Germany's cultural past, and the results are eye-opening. The book is full of odd details that provide a whole new way to understand Nazi Germany. My favorite part involved the exiled Jewish actors and comedians who broadcast parodies of Hitler and patriotic Germans across Germany via the BBC.
datrappert on LibraryThing 24 days ago
There are some interesting things here, and Herzog makes his point that, by analyzing the humor of the Nazi period, it is apparent that the average German citizen cannot claim ignorance of the existence of concentration camps and the escalating mistreatment and eventual near-annihilation of Germany's Jewish population. Mostly, however, this is just an anecdotal history of the war as it affected a small part of German society--namely a handful of actors and comedians, most of them Jewish. The individual stories of how they coped, fled, or perished are interesting, but there is no real overarching thesis that ties the book together or delivers on its promise of being a real analysis of humor in Hitler's Germany. In fact, some of the more interesting parts have to do with humor about Nazi Germany that came after the fact, such as Mel Brooks' The Producres.
meggyweg on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I wasn't sure what to expect out of this book, but I was impressed by it. The thesis is that you can prove just by the jokes floating around Nazi Germany that the German people knew perfectly well what that terrible things were going on. Maybe they didn't know exactly what was happening, but they had a pretty good idea. There are also mini-biographies of German comedians (which sounds like an oxymoron, I know) and filmmakers, and how they were affected by the Third Reich and censorship. I learned a lot from this book, including some nice jokes I'll be sure to try out on my friends.
g026r on LibraryThing 24 days ago
A while back I read a book by Ben Lewis titled Hammer & Tickle, subtitled either "A History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes" or "A Cultural History of Communism" depending on edition, which was a disappointment ¿ a magazine article stretched out to book length. Now, the good news is that Herzog's work (original German title: Heil Hitler, das Schwein ist tot!) is a better book than Lewis's. The bad news is that that's damning with faint praise, as it's still not that great of a book.It may be possible that part of the problem can be laid at the feet of the book's English publisher, Melville House, for choosing the subtitle "Humor in Hitler's Germany", as only part of the book concentrates on that subject. (Also given brief chapters: political humour in Imperial and Weimar Germany; German cabaret in exile; the Hollywood films The Great Dictator and To Be or Not to Be; post-war humour about Hitler and the Nazis: Mel Brook's original The Producers, Benigni's La vita è bella, and the comic "Hitler the German Sow".) The structure itself makes sense, as the work was originally a German television documentary, but it does lead to a bit of a feeling of having been sold a false bill of goods.The origins are also apparent in the structure of the individual chapters, as they mostly follow similar lines: an example of jokes, an interpretation of what they said about the citizens' relationship with the government, and a more in depth discussion of a particular example of someone who told those jokes. In the case of the Nazi-era chapters, these are generally someone who either got in trouble for telling them or someone who told uncritical Nazi jokes.Now, there are some interesting and informative bits in the work: for instance, Herzog observes that the majority of joke tellers weren't arrested, and those who were usually had a number of black-marks already on their record. In other words, the jokes were the excuse for getting rid of who the regime already considered troublemakers, rather than as a means of identifying them. On the other hand, the documentary origins means that other claims are presented with a degree of certainty they may not necessarily warrant ¿ Herzog's frequent observation that many of the jokes show that the majority of the public were aware of the exact nature of Nazi crimes in the east ¿ or without any amount of critical examination. (The result of the post-Anschluss referendum is presented without mention of the actions taken before the vote to suppress opposition that lead the 99% number to be suspect as a representation of the actual public division on the matter.)Overall, an interesting book but one that could have merited a less wide-ranging focus and a more rigorous examination of conclusions.A final note: the translation, by Jefferson Chase, is worth mentioning as humour, particularly ones based as heavily on wordplay and puns as the examples included, is difficult to translate. Chase, in my opinion, does a noteworthy job of explaining the joke's original nature, noting where it relies on the double-meaning or similar sounds of a particular German word, without changing the original beyond recognition. The translated jokes may not be funny, but then translated jokes so rarely are, but the representations at least leave one with an understanding of what the original was. (A complaint made against the Italian translation of the book, for instance.)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
UUUHHHH..... wat is dis crap