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Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany by [Herzog, Rudolph]
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Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5701 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (26 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43G9M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #444,173 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I wasn't expecting a book about German comedy - of any nature - to be an absolute ribtickler, and sure enough, this wasn't. Dull? Yes. Funny? No. The examples given, such as the joke about Goring's medals, are so painfully unfunny, I thought I was missing something. The examples are scattered amongst page upon page of well-written but dry-as-dust analytical body text that (understandably) tiptoes around all the pitfalls such a sensitive subject inherently brings, and the translation is somehow rather too concentrated to read comfortably. By the end of the sample, there were comparisons with the Romans, which was ironically the only part that contained anything recognisable as a joke.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rudolph Herzog, son of New German Cinema film director Werner, himself a director, has worked very hard to erase at a stroke first the British stereotype myth that A German Joke is no Joke, and then the post war German idea that Hitler and his tyrannical Nazi regime was no laughing matter unless one considered adhering to the band which comprises David Irving Hitler's War: And the War Path questioning the truth and seriousness of one of its human crimes, such as the Holocaust, including the elimination of German and Austrian cabaret performers, comedians and actors such as Kurt Gerron, Fritz Grünbaum, Willy Rosen and Otto Wallburg, something which a high majority of contemporary Post War Germans would gladly run a million miles away and hide.

Herzog in this book, aimed at the general readership (Barthes and his jargon seems to have wandered off the scanner)Barthes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions), fully armed with a gutsy assortment of brief witty cracks and longer waggish yarns, informs British readers that German laughter is not akin to British humour; that political jokes existed previously throughout the Kaiser's reign, that neither the arrival of Hitler to the Chancellorship in January 1933 marked the death of cabaret night-life or of funny artistes, nor that humour and in particular political genre thereafter became totally verboten.

Wit, the author considered, acted as the essential release valve against growing stress and anger.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A totally absorbing work that I read in two evenings. Beautifully written & researched. A very serious look at an unlikely subject. This book is a definite must!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book , well written, well researched and thought provoking . I cannot recommend it highly enough. You will not be disapointed .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x90fe13c0) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ed8f090) out of 5 stars Insight to Humor During Hitler's Reign 19 Sept. 2011
By B. Barden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
When reading the Sunday paper in the United States (and other countries where it is permissible) we can often see political comics- poking jabs about those in power. It wasn't quite the same in Hitler's Germany but there were jokes, political and meant to `jab', aplenty. It helped people to deal with the state of affairs. There were plenty of individuals who were bothered by the direction that Hitler and others in power were taking the country in. But as Herzog points out, the jokes and comics were only a way to ease the tension for the people, not the country. Herzog shows that many knew what was going on and were bothered by it, but not to the point of action.

The book is a good read that will make one think. It is sometimes difficult to understand the jokes passed during these times if one is not familiar with the German/Jewish cultures before and during the WWII era. For those who are interested in history, this book is a good glimpse into the mindset of those during this time.

I did think that this book was going to share more of the specific comics/jokes that were written/voiced during Hitler's Germany and it does, dispersed throughout, share some specific ones. However, it is more of a history of the time and the people's attitudes, with some examples of `humor' that circulated. Interestingly, the jokes did not often center around the Nazi brutality but instead was more popularly politically themed. Goring was made fun of for the excessive number of medals on his suit- and his enjoyment of food.

Herzog does recount some of the deaths that were the result of the public jokes against Hitler and those in power but I gathered that the deaths (many from being in concentration camps) were ordered later in Hitler's reign. After the Reich was losing the war and was becoming much less popular.

Some examples of the `jokes':

A 'law' that was rumored to be passed by the Nazis is as follows:
1. Anyone who does something or fails to do something will be punished.
2. Punishment will be handed down according to popular opinion.
3. Popular opinion is defined by the Nazi district leader [Gauleiter].

Another example:
A high-ranking Nazi official visiting Switzerland asks what a certain public building is for. "That's our Navy Ministry," his Swiss host explains. The Nazi laughs and says: "Why does Switzerland need a ministry of the navy? You've only got two or three ships." The Swiss answers, "Why not? Germany has a ministry of justice."

But as Herzog goes on to say after telling of over 250 well-known authors who were stripped of their citizenship, prominent culture figures and the friends of these individuals generally `adapted to the times'.

"Jokes...like this didn't aim any serious criticism at the paramilitary nature of Nazi organizations. At most, such witticisms targeted the disruptions to normal life party duties entailed..." (in reference to jokes about party name acronyms)

If you are interested in history, WWII history, perhaps sociology, and/or a look into the mindset of some people during the WWII era, this book may be worth a read. It does contain profanity and some explicit language.

I received this book from Melville House Publishers via NetGalley.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ed8f0e4) out of 5 stars Five Pages and Hooked 21 Jun. 2011
By Craig Gottlieb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Can you laugh at Hitler? During the Third Reich, it might have gotten you killed. Today, it might earn you shocking stares. As a military antique dealer that specializes in German artifacts from the Nazi period, I'm used to the second reaction. Well, by page 5 of this book, Rudolph Herzog had me hooked. What struck me is that the structure of political jokes don't change, just the characters do. Easy to read, full of insight into the politics of past and present. Recommend!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fa4f3e4) out of 5 stars Nazi Germany in a Different Light 11 Sept. 2014
By George Poirier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Over the decades, I’ve read a number of books on Nazi Germany, Hitler and World War II. However, for me, this one is a first. The idea that an oppressed people, even the persecuted Jews, would often freely invent and tell jokes about their overlords, and even about their own horrible demises, is not one that would come to my mind. That’s why I was so intrigued when I saw this book. Now, I am quite happy to have read it.

The author briefly recounts the coming into power of the Nazis, their march towards world domination and their ultimate downfall, as described in so many other books. But in this case, the people’s discontent, low morale and negative opinions of the Nazis are reflected in jokes that they created at the time and retold. The Nazis’ reactions to these jokes and those who propagated them are also well described. Several jokes are recounted throughout the book - their themes reflecting the main events of the time.

Despite the fact that his book is a translation from the German, I found that it was very well done. The jokes are clear and the punch lines are unambiguous. When a German word used in a joke can have two meanings, both of these meanings are explained prior to providing the joke, thus enabling the reader to appreciate its nuances. I also found the author’s prose to be friendly, lively, accessible and immensely captivating. I believe that anyone can enjoy this wonderful book - especially history enthusiasts.
HASH(0x8ed8f36c) out of 5 stars A Romp through Hitler's Germany 17 Sept. 2014
By L. S. Fischer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very insightful as to the thinking of many Germans during the NAZI era. It reveals aspects of German culture and the people's attitudes much differently than most material one finds. I did laugh out loud on many occasions. For those who have traveled through former British colonies, the joke about Moses and his staff is hilarious. So, surprisingly, were the antics of some cabaret entertainers who found themselves in a concentration camp, of all places. However, I don't know if I believe that Goebbels condoned or enjoyed their shows; his was probably a lure to trap those who opposed Nazi rule. There is also much historical detail about the fate of many professional comedians and everyday people whose sense of humor was condemned by their paranoid and brutal rulers. This part of everyday life under Nazi tyranny should make us realize how fortunate we are to live in modern Western countries whose governments are above criminalizing (most) dissent. It should also make us doubly aware that many people in the world today do not have this luxury. A book definitely worth reading.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ed8f30c) out of 5 stars Dead Funny : Humor in Hitler's Germany 19 Sept. 2011
By A.O. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had never thought humor could be used by anyone during Hitler's rule. To read how humor was used to get through these times and the consequences for doing so was unsettelling to say the least. There were also other bits of information that were new to me. Very interesting reading.
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