The World’s Best Book Club (WBBC) is reading HHhH by Laurent Binet and Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes. The books present a stark contrast on Nazi Germany and beg the question: can we rewrite history? HHhH is a deadly serious account of Reinhard Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague. He was an early proponent of the Holocaust. I found the book tedious and far too reminiscent of my childhood. I didn’t finish it.
Look Who’s Back was the perfect antidote. It is a satirical spoof on the Nazi mentality as well as a chilling look inside the mind of a narcissistic sociopath. In many respects, Mr. Vermes is prescient. The parallels to the 2016 Republican primary and Steven Colbert’s Colbert Report added a layer of humor for me. At the same time, the popularity of candidates who have opted to pander to Nazi sympathizers is indeed chilling.
Look Who’s Back is set in 2011. Adolph Hitler is reincarnated in a vacant lot in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in power. Oy veh! He hates modern architecture and is curious and baffled by technology like computers, the Internet, and smart phones. He’s also a little pissed that nobody recognizes him as the Führer. He misses the efficiency of Martin Bormann, the Führer’s filing cabinet. Hermann Göring is characterized as the Führer’s hot air balloon.
He seizes the opportunity to go along with the gag that he’s an Adolf Hitler impersonator. He becomes an instant YouTube wonder and the star of a television show.
Hitler reincarnated is substantially more charming and funny than I imagine he was in real life. Yet, his supercilious arrogance is sobering. He never finished high school. He was homeless. He was rejected by an art school. He spent time in prison. The Donald would have called him a loser. How could a guy like this win the hearts and minds of the German people?
He pandered to their hate and fueled their own supercilious attitudes. It works like a charm with gullible people. Donald Trump certainly learned his lessons from history. Have we?