Adolf Hitler novel tops German bestseller chart
A satirical novel about Adolf Hitler, set in the present day, has climbed to the top of Germany’s bestseller charts.
By Harry Alsop
6:39PM GMT 05 Feb 2013
Er Ist Wieder Da (He’s Back) has sold more than 400,000 copies since its release, keeping it at the top of the Spiegel’s bestseller chart since mid December.
This has been despite, or perhaps because of, a striking front cover framed by Hitler’s trademark side-parting, with the title squashed into the silhouette of his signature moustache.
In the novel, author Timur Vermes relates Hitler’s cult of personality to our modern celebrity obsession through 397 pages of pitch-black prose.
The humour is relentlessly dark, revolving to a large extent around Hitler’s interaction with modern innovations.
The fuhrer discovers jeans, sets the ringtone on his new smartphone to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, and is disappointed to learn that Hitler89, his preferred email address, has been taken.
It begins with a woozy Hitler waking up in 21st century Berlin, oblivious to the fact that the war has ended.
Surprised by the respite in the fighting, he staggers through Berlin, unable to reconcile himself with the changes he sees around him.
His loyal sidekick Bormann is nowhere to be found, and worse still, nobody seems to be interested in the war effort.
Spotting a news stand, he is disappointed to see that his favourite paper, The Volkisch Observer, has been replaced on the shelves by a myriad of Turkish newspapers.
Picking one up, he notices the date, 30 August 2011, and faints from shock.
The kiosk owner, intrigued by a man he assumes to be a professional doppelganger, offers to introduce him to some television producers he knows.
Soon, Hitler is the star of a viral YouTube skit and a Turkish entertainment show, propelling him back towards the political spotlight.
Vermes has been accused of serious bad taste in his subject matter, but he insists farce was not his objective.
Daniel Erk, a German author, has criticised Vermes for cashing in on a controversial topic that, in his eyes, reinforces the notion that “this crazy man is only person to blame”.
He said: “This is how Germans absolve themselves of any wrongdoing and responsibility. This Hitler is the sole person responsible for the war and genocide.”
Vermes, surprisingly, is completely in agreement.
“We have too many Hitler stereotypes, which are always the same – the monster that enables us to reassure ourselves,” he told German media.
“Often, we tell ourselves that if a new Hitler came along, it would be easy to stop him. I tried to show the opposite – that even today, Hitler might be successful. Just in a different way.”
The book is due to be published in English by MacLehose Press by the end of 2014. Translations will also be available in 16 other languages, and there are rumours that a movie deal has already been struck.
It is currently only available in German.
Epilogue: The moral of this blog is clear: we can fool ourselves into thinking that a man like Hitler could never come to power again. Look around and consider the changes in personal rights and the increase of control of information; but especially look at the new propaganda. The line between celebrity and authority is so blurred that we cannot question our leaders. The chilling fact is that it is not government that is quelling honest dissent as much as it is the adoring public. Familiar chants are starting to appear, “Yes, there are rights being trampled but it is for the good of the nation and our leader knows best.” Again, it is only prayer and revival that will pull the world out of this dive.- Mario Murillo