August 9, 2017

A texted conversation about comedy that got me looking up what jokes people told about Hitler during the Nazi Era.

Meade was off on a couple of errands. 1. To Whole Foods, for provisions and to return an off-tasting vat of freshly ground peanut butter, and 2. To Batteries + Bulbs — there is such a place — to get the weird battery that fits in the strange AT&T Uverse device that started screaming at us this morning. We'll join this texted conversation in the middle of things:

Meade: The checkout guy at WF was very nice to me

Althouse: About the p nut butter?

Meade: Asked if I had any plans for the day

Althouse: What did you say?

Meade: Fix a battery

Althouse: Did he use your straight line to make a good wisecrack

Too nice to make wisecrack
Only the gals are allowed
Guys have to be nice
And smile
Wisecracks for guys might = rape
I remember when guys were able to be funny.
Now, “it’s not funny” has become an article of faith
This made me research the question what jokes were made about Hitler in Nazi Germany. I found this article in Spiegel from 2006 about a book by Rudolph Herzog called "Heil Hitler, The Pig is Dead" (published in English as "Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany"). From the article:
Hitler visits a lunatic asylum. The patients give the Hitler salute. As he passes down the line he comes across a man who isn't saluting. 'Why aren't you saluting like the others?' Hitler barks. '“Mein Führer, I'm the nurse,' comes the answer. 'I'm not crazy!'

That joke may not be a screamer, but it was told quite openly along with many others about Hitler and his henchmen in the early years of the Third Reich, according to a new book on humor under the Nazis.

But by the end of the war, a joke could get you killed. A Berlin munitions worker, identified only as Marianne Elise K., was convicted of undermining the war effort 'through spiteful remarks' and executed in 1944 for telling this one:

Hitler and Göring are standing on top of Berlin's radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to cheer up the people of Berlin. 'Why don't you just jump?' suggests Göring.
Meade: When Trump starts executing people for telling bad jokes, we'll know he's literally Hitler.


richlb said...

Hitler himself was known to crack wise:

Bay Area Guy said...

When I was a kid in the late 60s, early 70s, we used to sing this refrain from Snow White, which I believe originated with American GIs in WWII.

Whistle while you work
Hitler is a jerk
Mussolini bit his weenie
Now it will not work

Without googling, I believe that the US army or MI5 or OSS obtained some medical records of Hitler, which, ahem, showed a few medical irregularities with his plumbing -- hence the effort to mock and discredit him during war, hence the origin of this little song.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

For shame, Althouse. You could have bought that stuff on Amazon.

DKWalser said...

If Althouse uses the Althouse Amazon Portal, does she get a commission?

tcrosse said...

Berlin, 1943.
Every day an old man walks up to the newsstand and scans the headlines.
Newsy asks him what he's looking for.
Obituary, says he.
But they're in the back, says the newsy.
Not the one I'm looking for.

traditionalguy said...

The Hitler jokes in Google all were Holocaust dark jokes. The Jews in Germany never lost their sense of humor. ( E.g., Why did Auschwitz shower heads have 12 holes? The jews only had 10 fingers.")

That evil personified in Hitler is an example of Kim Jong Un's heritage. They had the freedom to kill anyone anytime.

Ann Althouse said...

"If Althouse uses the Althouse Amazon Portal, does she get a commission?"


Nonapod said...

My personal favorite Hilter joke is by Luise C.K.

Ann Althouse said...

When I first saw there was a store Batteries + Bulbs, I thought it was silly. It's so specialized. But if you think about what people might suddenly need and not want to wait for delivery of... it's a pretty good idea.

Also, consider that it might be challenging to insure that you're ordering the right thing and annoying to worry about sending the wrong thing back, but if you go into the store with your device, they'll deal with you directly, which is what we did. And in fact, the battery was kind of melting into the device, which was why we couldn't even figure out how to extract it. The guy in the store did the work for us. That was a useful in-person service!

Ralph L said...

I didn't know Whole Fooders had a reputation for wisecracking.

The clerk's question sounds like a come-on to me, so maybe Meade should be worried about rape.

Ralph L said...

B+B is the only place in town that has the battery for my Walmart cellphone--and they were out.
Guess that allows them a high markup if people can't wait for Amazon.

Todd said...

Meade: When Trump starts executing people for telling bad jokes, we'll know he's literally Hitler.

According to those that do not approve of "President Trump" and choose to "resist", words don't mean what you or I think they mean. So, Trump is LITERALLY Hitler because he tweets mean things!

Also, this is just like [say] a male employee pointing out that just maybe not every individual woman is interested in doing what any man might do is equal to sexism, which is equal to hurting woman feelings, which is equal to hate speech, which is equal to rape, and so Trump is Hitler.

Nonapod said...

When I first saw there was a store Batteries + Bulbs, I thought it was silly. It's so specialized.

It seems to me that there are certain products that could lend themselves to being an online service, like Dollar Shave Club does for razors and blades. Specifically nonperishable products that everyone needs intermittently and that have a relatively short lifespan. Certainly batteries and lightbulbs would, as well as things like household cleaning products and toiletries. Of course Amazon offers order subscriptions for a lot of stuff like that I guess.

Ann Althouse said...

"I didn't know Whole Fooders had a reputation for wisecracking."

No, they don't. I just thought Meade's answer to the question was asking for it.

Jim S. said...

Not in Germany, but I always think of Spike Jones, Der Fuehrer's Face. I don't know if this is true, but I was told that Hitler had a list of Americans that he specifically wanted killed, and Spike Jones made the list.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Jim, I heard a story about US officers in Nuremberg, post-war as the war-crimes trials were ongoing, noting that the locals laughed as that song came on the radio. It was considered a good sign; Goering's courtroom antics had not helped the Nazi reputation among the defeated population.

I'd imagine it'd be an honor to get on that list, too.

DKWalser said...

When I first saw there was a store Batteries + Bulbs, I thought it was silly. It's so specialized.

They've been around for awhile. My iPhone didn't get thrown away last year because they were able to replace the battery for less than $50 (after a $25-off coupon for setting up the appointment online). Apple would have charged almost twice as much and the closest Apple Store is much farther away than B+B.

Hagar said...

Early in the War, Norway's most popular weekly magazine had a front page showing a benevolent father with a small moustache holding a somewhat fat, blond truculent looking kid under the arms while teaching him to skate.
That got the artist and the head editor sent to concentration camp.

They did not learn. During Stalingrad they had a front page showing a huge, muscular blacksmith with a Stalinesque moustache hammering on a large white-hot iron U held in tongs on the anvil by a very agonized looking apprentice.
That got the magazine shut down for good, and the the whole editorial staff went off to camp.

William Chadwick said...

As someone once wrote (if I could remember who I'd give credit): "If you call someone a fascist, and he doesn't kill you or jail you, you're a liar."

John said...

Coming soon from the folks at B&B

A bank that specializes in just giving change


John Henry

whitney said...

Richard Gellately in The Gestapo and German Society quotes the research of Reinhart Mann on the Gestapo records of Dusseldorf: a quarter of the files deal with "non-conforming verbal utterances"

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...

I just riffed here on Althouse a few days ago about Comedy Writers comparing Trump and Hitler, regarding writing jokes.

"There were only so many jokes you could make about Hitler. Everyone knows that.""

NOW she thinks it's worth writing about.

I bet she doesn't even remember me planting the seed that blossomed into this post.

It is like I am not even here sometimes.

I'm just that dude, hanging out on the corner, muttering dark mutterings.

I am Laslo.

buwaya said...

WW2 Jap joke in Manila's vaudeville - yes, during the Japanese occupation, this took guts.

The Tugo or Tuguing asks Pogo or Puguing (playing a Jap)

Whats the time?

Pugo pulls back his sleeve revealing a dozen watches (the Japs were well known for stealing watches).

Hagar said...

A patriot took the streetcar to work one morning, and at the next station a German officer came on and sat down next to him, so the man got up and went out on the "standing only." A bit farther on a quisling entered and sat down next to the officer, who then got up and went out to join the patriot on the "standing only."

Night Owl said...

Reminds me of a recent conversation my husband and I had about how PC and SJWs had destroyed comedy. I remarked that today's kids wouldn't be able to watch a movie like "Blazing Saddles" without being "triggered" by the use of the N-word, while we, as kids, laughed out loud at the jokes. We weren't laughing because we were little racists-- we were rooting for the sheriff-- we were laughing at the ignorance of the townspeople; we were laughing at the absurdity of racism. Being raised on Monty Python, Mad magazine, and shows like "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons", most of us learned to understand and appreciate satire at a young age.

I said half-jokingly that the SJWs had won, because while watching the comedy group "The whitest kids you know" on Youtube, at times the politically incorrect humor made me uncomfortable. After a bit of silence my husband concluded glumly, "We were lucky to grow up when we did. As kids we were allowed to have a sense of humor. We're not allowed to laugh anymore."

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Wiki - Russian Political Jokes: Stalin

Scroll up and down for different eras/leaders.

This was interesting, given our discussion of the fired Google guy:

Daily Soviet Life
Five precepts of the Soviet intelligentsia (intellectuals):
Don't think.
If you think, then don't speak.
If you think and speak, then don't write.
If you think, speak and write, then don't sign.
If you think, speak, write and sign, then don't be surprised.

gg6 said...

Since the subject here is supposedly Humor, I'll say I don't find Meade's closing comment 'funny' at all.
Aside from being a rather flat-footed, dull response, I personally find it snarkily disrespectful (of any public figure, much less a POTUS) in a way that has become all too 'COMMON' these days... in this dictionary sense of the word:
"2 showing a lack of taste and refinement; vulgar."
So, Meade thinks the 'figurative' meaning of such a 'joke' is OK?! That sucks as well.
BTW, I feel the same way about ALL the these crass Trump/Hitler/Fascist joke-memes we see thrown around these days by the we-know-who crowd.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...


Achilles said...

Meade: Wisecracks for guys might = rape

Althouse: I remember when guys were able to be funny.

Who knew the 19th amendment would have such far reaching implications...

I joke! I joke! ...

err... I heard someone else say that!

Achilles said...

Laslo Spatula said...

I'm just that dude, hanging out on the corner, muttering dark mutterings.

I would invite you over to my corner, but you know how it is...

Bob Ellison said...

If, say, Zeus were to set up an Amazon account with Althouse's shipping address, then Althouse could collect the commission. That's bound to be against the contract rules, but rest assured that many people are trying it.

Hagar said...

"Tactic," said Rommel and executed a "strategic shortening of the lines."
"Tic-tac," said Montgomery and filled in the evacuated area.

Hagar said...

Arnulf Øverland, a poet, was arrested and sent to the Grini concentration camp in Norway.
While he was there, the commandant wanted the area in front of his office spruced up with some landscaping and flowers, so the prisoners were called up and a gardener requested to step forward, but no one did.
The commandant got a little annoyed and said, "Come on now, you mean to say there is not even one gardener here?"
And Øverland quietly said: "Why don't you just arrest one then?" said...

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?


FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs Whatsit said...

I don't know about jokes told in Germany, but my American-born grandfather used to sing this song mocking Hitler, which dated from WWII:

(sung to the tune of the Colonel Bogey March)

Hitler has only got one ball
Goering has two but very small
Himmler has something simmler
And poor old Goebbels
Has no balls at all!

M Jordan said...

Hitler was a baby. Jeb Bush killed him.

His defense: "Hey, you gotta step up."

Best Jeb line right ahead of "Please clap."

M Jordan said...

Here's one I remember from my youth:

Whistle while you work,
Hitler* is a jerk
Broke his weenie,
Now it doesn't work.

*Can substitute Kruschchev.

M Jordan said...

Oops. Just saw my Hitler bit above. Sorry.

tcrosse said...

Hitler was Stalin's cock-holster! Comedy gold !

David Smith said...

I'm not interested enough to research this, so it's opinion, not fact, but I'm inclined to think that the "right" kind of joke about FDR or Wilson during their respective wars (or Lincoln!) might not get you killed but stomped just might be a possibility if your timing was wrong. Feelings run high when sons, brothers and buddies are off getting killed following Lincoln's or Wilson's or Roosevelt's (or Hitler's) orders. For that matter, in my generation "jokes" about "baby killers" or "Hanoi Jane" weren't a good idea just anywhere.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Word from the bird, big daddy. Those dolls/gals get all the breaks.

Dudes gotta dodge cruisin for a (figurative) bruisin.

Neato daddy-O.

later, gator.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Apropos peanut butter. Forget about that local grind drek. Get you some Laura Scudders chunky.

Lately Wally World stopped stocking the larger jars. In desperation, tried some Central Market (house label of H.E.B., the major Texas chain, for their Whole Foods wanna-be stores). It was crud.

Last trip to Wally World we found some humongous 36 oz jars of "Adams" brand. Scrutiny of label showed it to be a Laura Scudders product. Good stuff.

exiledonmainstreet said...

I binged Arnulf Øverland, expecting that he had been killed because of that joke, but he survived and died in the '60's.

The French writer Chamfort was not so fortunate. He made a joke during the Reign of Terror, a line which perfectly sums up the Left: "Be my brother, or I will kill you."

Some 18th century SJW reported it and he was arrested. Chamfort tried to cheat the executioner by jumping out of the window of his cell. However, he made a mess of it and it took a while for him to die of his wounds. On his deathbed, he said, "If it wasn't for me, I would do brilliantly."

William said...

Off topic but related: Is there any record of Hitler, Stalin or Mao making a joke in any of their speeches or writings? Lincoln and Churchill had some good lines, many of which they actually said, but I can't recall a single witticism assigned to these guys. "No person, no problem." Their sayings that made Bartlett's are the opposite of humor.

exiledonmainstreet said...

William,dictators don't have to be funny or charming. I recall reading that Fidel Castro would give speeches that went on for hours and people would gather in village squares in Cuba to hear them over a loudspeaker. Attendance was mandatory. So was standing and looking attentive and interested. Absolute power means the power to bore.

Rusty said...

Eva Braun wants to tell Hitler a joke.
Eva," What do youj call jews in Florida?"
Hitler,'I don't know."
Eva,"Orange Jews!"
Eva," What do you call Jews in California?"
Hitler,"I don't know."
Eva,"Grape jews!"
Eva,"What do you call jews in Frankfort?"
Hiltler laughs uproariously.
Eva,"Why are you laughing? I wasn't finished."
"Don't be stupid Eva. There are no jews in Frankfort."

Paco Wové said...

"It is like I am not even here sometimes."

Join the club.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"Absolute power means the power to bore."

If the power to bore means absolute power, things are looking up from my POV.

Rusty said...

"It is like I am not even here sometimes.

I'm just that dude, hanging out on the corner, muttering dark mutterings.

I am Laslo."

Welcome, my friend.
Now get the fuck off my corner.

Charlie Eklund said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Eklund said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Eklund said...

Here's a German joke circa 1938:

Following the conclusion of the recent Reichsparteitag Congress in Nürnberg, there was a scheduled meeting of all the Nazi top brass with the Führer at his home at the Obersalzberg. A discussion of the Sudentland issue was on the agenda and the situation was critical. Hitler asked the highest leaders of the Party to fly back with him on his personal airplane. Naturally, all agreed and Göring, Hess, Himmler, Bormann, Heydrich, Goebbels, Speer and von Ribbentrop all flew back on the Führer's plane, along with Hitler himself.

As the plane neared Hitler's private airfield, it developed engine trouble and crashed into the Untersbgerg mountain. All aboard were killed, pulverized upon impact, their bodies burned beyond recognition. Who was saved?

The German people.

DanTheMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DanTheMan said...

A Jew is in the concentration camp, reading a book, and muttering to himself. The SS guard sees him and says "Stupid Jew! What are doing?"
"This book is in Hebrew, and I'm practicing", says the Jew. "Hebrew is the language they speak in Heaven."
"Ah, but what if you go to Hell?" says the guard.
The Jew replies, "I already speak German."

Known Unknown said...

The first Hitler joke in the post works better without the nurse line. Just a patient saying "I'm not crazy" without the salute is funnier.

Known Unknown said...

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. Feminists can't change anything.

tcrosse said...

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A; One to change the bulb, and ten to write about the experience.

Ralph L said...

A; One to change the bulb, and ten to write about the experience.

For Southerners, it's one to change the bulb and 3 to talk about how good the old one was.

exiledonmainstreet said...

no, PB, you misread me. but in democratic societies, candidates have to make an effort not to bore, because they have to persuade. Dictators have no need to make the effort once they have power, although charisma might play a part in their rise. Hitler was a gifted orator the Germans thought so,anyway - but his dinner parties were dull affairs where guests listened to him drone on for hours.

it's a pretty obvious point really.

Gahrie said...

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: That's not funny.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Thanks exile,
sans your paint-by-numbers update, I wouldn't have understood your original point.

Presumably next year (when I'm in fourth grade) I'll be able to grasp your comments more easily.

P.S., at some point I'll graduate from P Butter school. Then I'll be Almond Butter. BTW, eventually Meadehouse may switch over to the good stuff, too.

Or, more likely, they'll keep grinding it out w/ rotten PB.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Speaking of chow, Meadehouse should go Keto.

Or, at least fast.


Tim Wright said...

Had to search, duck duck go, of course, for Marianne Elise. Turns out to have been a German war widow who really was gullotined for a joke. Sorry to bring everyone down. Tim

Michael K said...

One Hitler joke I"ve read is about a courtesan who, wafter lovemaking with a Nazi General as about the invasion of the Soviet UNion, which the general is plannig.

He shows her a map of the USSR and a map of Germany. USSR is ten times the size.

She says, "Liebchen, has the Fuhrer seen this map ?"

Tim Wright said...

Where is auto correct when you need it. Tim

LordSomber said...

Das macht nichts.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Or, more likely, they'll keep grinding it out w/ rotten PB.

You can leave anytime. Jellies everywhere will rejoice.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Bad L,

You should get all ketosis-y, too.

Just check w/ a doc first. Best to be safe in the golden years.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

out: glucose

in: ketone

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Some of ya enhanced maturity WI-ers may be a bit confused:

But, Keto is not the same as your native son Brian Gerard.

Kato sera, sera.

Zach said...

Communists had great jokes, too. One of my favorites:

"Here we are in a country with shortages of everything. But the toilet paper is two ply. What gives?"

"One copy of everything must go to Moscow!"

walter said...

Does Meade sport a ring?

Quaestor said... off-tasting vat of freshly ground peanut butter...

A vat?