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GERMANY: Nazi past and sorry present

I mentioned the New York Times (11/25/02) article "German Comedy About Nazi Era Seen as No Laughing Matter" by Mark Landler. It begins: ""Three decades after Mel Brooks's film "The Producers" first showed chorus girls goose-stepping in the musical number "Springtime for Hitler," German television last week broadcast the first German-made film that tries to play this country's darkest period for laughs. "Goebbels and Geduldig," a 90-minute farce about the Nazi propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels, and a Jewish concentration camp inmate who looks enough like him to be his twin, was broadcast Wednesday on the state-owned ARD network. While Mr. Brooks, Charlie Chaplin and others have long mined the Third Reich for humor, poking fun at Nazis has been taboo in this country. German movies about that period tend to be earnest documentaries or morally freighted dramas like the submarine film "Das Boot." The broadcast of "Goebbels and Geduldig" was delayed for two years while the producers sent the movie on a circuit of film festivals to test its reception outside Germany. They had tinkered endlessly with the screenplay, removing many of its slapstick elements. ARD canceled the first broadcast date, April 20, which was picked to coincide with Hitler's birthday, because network executives deemed that timing to be in poor taste. They rescheduled it for Nov. 20, a Protestant religious holiday dedicated to prayer and penance".

From Germany, Christopher Jones comments "I consider the current situation in Germany as the great untold international story. Nothing works anymore. TV is filled with talk shows about how the Chancellor lied his way back into office, or the economy is in shambles, the state pension system is bankrupt, they are in violation of their own "Euro protection" debt criteria, the health system has resulted in endless protests by the doctors and dentists -- and no end in sight. German TV should be shut down for the common good. Frankly the land of "dichter und denker" has quickly become Europe's basket case. Prof Arnulf Baring wrote in the feuillteon of the FAZ that Germans may soon have to go onto the barricades -- after an initial huff, it was quickly forgotten.) A "Spassgesellschaft" fun society dies hard. A far cry from: "Hart wie Kruppstahl, Zeh wie Leder und Flink wie Windhunde".

Ronald Hilton - 11/28/02