Coping by using humour.

A few years ago , on the 22nd of June 2016, to be precise I wrote a blog titled “Holocaust and Humour” . I got a lot of criticism for that. The thing I found extraordinary the criticism didn’t come from people who read the blog, but only from people who read the title.

I didn’t mean to disrespect any of the Holocaust victims and survivors, the opposite was true. I wanted to show my deepest respect because despite all the horrors so many still had a sense of humour.

This blog is also meant as a way of expressing my deepest respect for all Holocaust victims and survivors.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the German constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Through decrees and laws, the Nazis abolished these civil rights and destroyed German democracy. Starting in 1934, it was illegal to criticize the Nazi government. Even telling a joke about Hitler was considered treachery. People in Nazi Germany could not say or write whatever they wanted.

The Treachery Act of 1934 was a German law established by the Third Reich on 20 December 1934. Known as the Heimtückegesetz, its official title was the “Law against Treacherous Attacks on the State and Party and for the Protection of Party Uniforms” (Gesetz gegen heimtückische Angriffe auf Staat und Partei und zum Schutz der Parteiuniformen). It established penalties for the abuse of Nazi Party badges and uniforms, restricted the right to freedom of speech, and criminalized all remarks causing putative severe damage to the welfare of the Third Reich, the prestige of the Nazi government or the Nazi Party. Anyone ,regardless if you were Jewish or Non Jewish, could face the death penalty for breaking this law.

Father Josef Müller, a Catholic priest, was executed for telling some of his parishioners the following story:

A fatally wounded German soldier asked his chaplain to grant one final wish. “Place a picture of Hitler on one side of me, and a picture of Goering on the other side. That way I can die like Jesus, between two thieves.”

The indictment against Müller called this joke “one of the most vile and most dangerous attacks directed on our confidence in our Führer. . . . It is a betrayal of the people, the Führer, and the Reich.”

I just love it how some Jewish people defied the Nazi regime and coped with the horrors of the Holocaust by using humour.

In some of the the ghettos, Hitler’s self proclaimed “masterpiece” was referred to as Mein Krampf (My Cramp). His ides of the “Master Race” was the subject of many jokes. These are just a few of them.

“There are two kinds of Aryan, Non Aryan and Barb-Aryan”

“Aryan, blond like Hitler, slender like Goering and tall like Goebbels”

Cutting the hair of the prisoners was one of the ways the Nazis tried to dehumanize their victims. It was like taking away their dignity and a sense of identity. But even that act did not stop some women to cope with it in a humorous way. This is just an anecdote on how one woman coped with the ordeal.

“When they cut our hair in Auschwitz, that was something terrible. After they cut off my hair, suddenly I saw some of my girlfriends (as in female friends) who I had known for a very long time, many cried. They cried after long hair and then I started laughing and they asked ‘What, are you out of your mind, what are you laughing about? ‘ I said’ This I never had before, a hairdo for free? Never in my whole life’ And I still remember how they looked at me, they looked at me as if I was crazy”

Another anecdote from a survivor was in relation to the transport on the trains.

“This whole situation, they shoved us into those trains. It was like cattle, it was something awful inside the train. When we have just arrived in Auschwitz everybody ran to the window, to see something, but you couldn’t. The window had shutters, a small window. I also wanted to see where we were. Then a girl friend asked ‘what do you want to see so badly?’. I said: ‘I simply want to see the conductor, ’cause I don’t have a ticket, I want to see when he comes in…’

I have quite a good sense of humour myself, albeit sometimes a bit on the dark side and filled with sarcasm, and I have used in many tragic episodes in my life. However I don’t know if I would have the courage to use humour if I was faced with the horrors of the Holocaust.

sources

file:///C:/Users/Dirk/Downloads/Laughter%20in%20a%20Time%20of%20Tragedy_%20Examining%20Humor%20during%20the%20Holocau%20(1).pdf

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-propaganda-and-censorship

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The slightly ‘naughtier’ side of Anne Frank.

On June 25, 1947, the diary of Anne Frank is posthumously published when her father, Otto Frank, prints the first 1,500 copies in Dutch. Otto Frank had made the first transcription in German in 1946. In spring 1946 it had come to the attention of Dr. Jan Romein and his wife Annie Romein-Verschoor, two Dutch historians. They were so moved by it that Anne Romein made unsuccessful attempts to find a publisher, which led Romein to write an article for the newspaper Het Parool:

“This apparently inconsequential diary by a child, this ‘de profundis’ (which refers to Psalm 130) stammered out in a child’s voice, embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the evidence of Nuremberg put together.

— Jan Romein in his article “Children’s Voice” on Het Parool, 3 April 1946.

This caught the interest of Contact Publishing in Amsterdam, who approached Otto Frank to submit a Dutch draft of the manuscript for their consideration. They offered to publish, but advised Otto Frank that Anne’s candor about her emerging sexuality might offend certain conservative quarters, and suggested cuts.

Recently these cut elements of the diary were discovered. They were two pages of Anne Frank’s diary where brown paper was pasted over the writing.

The two pages, Anne, included some “dirty” jokes and more than 33 lines explaining sex, contraception and prostitution.

Below are just some of those recovered lines from Anne Frank’s diary.

The Jokes

“Do you know why the German girls of the armed forces are in the Netherlands?” she wrote. “As a mattress for the soldiers.”

“A man comes home at night and notices that another man shared the bed with his wife that evening. He searches the whole house, and finally also looks in the bedroom closet. There is a totally naked man, and when that one man asked what the other was doing there, the man in the closet answered: ‘You can believe it or not but I am waiting for the tram.'”

“A man had a very ugly wife and he did not want a relationship with her. One evening, he came home and he saw his friend lying in bed with his wife and the man said: ‘He does and I have to!!!!’ “

“A man and a woman had a relationship, and after a few months the woman’s belly was getting disturbingly big. Then, the man called a doctor who said: ‘It’s just air, Mrs., just air!!!” The man replied: ‘I am not pumping air, am I?’ “

Her thoughts about sex

About having the first period. “a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn’t do that of course before one is married.”

“Until I was 11 or 12, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside , though you couldn’t see them,” she wrote at one point. “What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris.”

“I sometimes imagine that someone might come to me and ask me to inform him about sexual matters. How would I go about it?” She continued to depict what she imagined were the “rhythmical movements” involved, as well as the “internal medicament” or contraception

It was clears she was well aware of adult topics like prostitution: “All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris they have big houses for that. Papa has been there.”

I can understand why these pages weren’t included in the published version of her diary, because the publisher was probably right in the assumption that it may have offended some people. On the other hand though it shows that this teenage girl had a sense of humor and an interest in sexuality, just like any other teenage girl or boy has.

I know I referred to Anne Frank’s more naughty side, but really all this shows that she was an ordinary teenager, who had a very sad but extraordinary story to tell .

Sources

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/on-this-day/May-June-08/On-this-Day–Anne-Frank-s-Diary-Published-for-the-First-Time.html

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/05/15/world/anne-frank-diary-pages-revealed-trnd/index.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/15/anne-franks-dirty-jokes-found-diary-pages-covered-brown-paper

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/05/16/anne-franks-hidden-diary-pages-risque-jokes-and-sex-education/

https://www.biography.com/news/anne-frank-diary-secret-pages

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Interview with Ferne Pearlstein- Director of “the Last Laugh”

 

This is the interview I did with Ferne Pearlstein , director,writer and producer of “the Last Laugh”

A documentary where world-famous comedians including Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, and Gilbert Gottfried pitch in with their own views on the boundaries of comedy.

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https://www.imdb.com/video/vi1303361817?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_2

Brats-Laurel and Hardy were so ahead of their time.

brats

I know I have written about Laurel and Hardy before but now with the biopic of their lives in cinemas across the world, I was reminded how brilliant they were.

Unlike their contemporaries like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy’s humor stayed fresh and still appeals to audiences nowadays.

Perhaps this is because they were so ahead of their time. Not only in cinematographic technical aspects but also in modern social settings. Nothing illustrates this more then the movie Brats.

The short movie is about 2 dads playing  checkers and snooker, minding their children, while the wife are out on the town.Just think about that for a minute,today that would not be a big deal, but in 1930 it most definitely was.

Even when you look at the special effects, Laurel and Hardy not only play the dads but also the boys they are minding. Using  over-sized props to give the impression of kids into everything from a bathtub to a wooden chest of drawers. Each room of the house was re-created on a  large scale to achieve the effect of both duos being in the same house.

The movie is only 23 minutes long but it has so many hilarious scenes. I must have seen it 100s of times but it never bores me.

Ending up with my favourite line from the movie” You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be led”

 

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Making fun of Hitler-Mocking the Führer

Capturefunny walkOne of the most effective weapons during WWII, and indeed nearly every war, was propaganda.

Where the Nazis mostly used their propaganda to incite fear and hate, the allies and especially the Brits sometimes adopted a different approach. They’d often used humour and satire in order to ridicule the Nazis and their beloved leader Hitler.

in August 1939  Toby O’Brien, an Anglo-Irish journalist  and publicist for the British Council at the time, wrote the song  “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball” Initially it was called  “Göring has only got one ball”, referring to Göring’s groin injury he suffered during the Beer Hall Putsch, the song also implied that Hitler had two small ones. In nearly all later versions, the positions were reversed.

Putsch

The song was sung to the tune of “Colonel Bogey March” unfortunately I could not find any good versions of the song, but below are  the lyrics of 2 different versions of the song followed by the music of Colonel Bogey March, so lets make this an interactive blog where you can sing the song to the music yourselves.

“Göring has only got one ball
Hitler’s are so very small
Himmler’s so very similar
And Goebbels has no balls at all”

“Hitler has only got one ball
Göring has two but very small
Himmler is rather sim’lar
But poor old Goebbels has no balls at all”

 

A British Government propaganda parody film  was produced in December 1942 which was aimed to mock  the Nazis

It worked ,Joseph Goebbels was furious after seeing the film ,so much so that he reportedly ran out of the room kicking a chair and screaming profanities.

The video uses scenes from  the 1934 German propaganda film ‘Triumph of the Will’ and is re-edited to make it  appear comically  as if Nazi troops and Hitler are doing the Lambeth Walk dance.

Dance

The “Lambeth Walk” was a popular dance craze in the U.S. and the U.K. in the late 1930s. The song, from the musical Me and My Girl, referred to a street in a Cockney district in London. Dancers strode back and forth, punctuating their “walk” with high kicks and broad gestures.

The video, entitled ‘ Lambeth Walk-Nazi Style’, was produced by Leslie Winik and edited by a British Ministry of Information official Charles A. Ridley and was screened in cinemas all across the UK.It is probably the world’s first parody video.

 

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Humour in WWII

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Despite all the horrors of WWII there was still room for humour, satire and a healthy dose of sarcasm during WWII.

Although sometimes the price to pay for a joke could be quite high. In this blog just examples  some WWII jokes and the consequences for some of them, and ways how people coped with the war in a humorous way.

I am not sure if this one originates from WWII but I believe it does.

“Why do french tanks have rear view mirrors? To see the battlefield”

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21st November 1940: Wally’s barber shop, St Martin Street has defiant signs outside after losing its windows during the London blitz.

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A British shopkeeper hanging up a sign during the Blitz which reads, “Business as usual Mr. Hitler.” London, England – 1940

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Although the Nazis didn’t feel that jokes necessarily undermined their regime there were times people were punished severely by telling jokes, especially when Hitler was the butt of the joke.

“The true Aryan is as blond as Hitler, as slim as Göring and as tall as Goebbels” Many  German jokes centered  on the vanity and human weaknesses of the Nazi leadership , not so much on the fact that they were evil killers.

“An adjutant bursts into Görings office: “The Reichstag is on fire!!”. Göring checks his watch and says: “What, already?” The Germans had their suspicions that the Nazis were behind the Reichstag fire.

“Hitler and Göring are standing atop the Berlin radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to put a smile on Berliners’ faces. So Göring says: “Why don’t you jump?”

A factory worker, known as Marianne K., was executed for telling this joke. Her husband had been killed in Stalingrad.

Jump

Humorous propaganda poster

Vintage_WWII_Patriotic_Posters_United_States_America_Hitler_4LG

 

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April Fool’s Day in WWII

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Although the world was going through one of the darkest era’s in its existence , there was still a sense of humour prevailing. For many it was this sense of humour which was all that remained of their humanity.

Below are some examples of April Fool#s day hoaxes during WWII.

On April 1 1943

The Kingsport Times (of Kingsport, Tennessee) ran a photo on its front page of what it said was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s “escape ship,” spotted going down the local Holston River. It said the ship had entered the Holston River by way of the Gulf of Mexico.1943rommel_lg

“ROMMEL RUNS UP REEDY CREEK — In the absence of the Tennessee State Guard from Kingsport due to training at Camp Forrest, a hurry-up call was placed today for the Piney Flats Regulars and the Bays Mountain Reserves to rush to Kingsport to prevent Field Marshal Rommel’s escape ship, seen here going down the Holston River, from using Reedy Creek as an “escape corridor.” The escape ship from Tunisia was reported to have entered the Holston River by way of the Gulf of Mexico. Now turn the paper upside down for the rest of the story.

(upside-down text:)
We’re sorry, it wasn’t Reedy Creek after all. It was salt river — and we ain’t fooling on that last — even though it is April Fool Day.”

 

1942kingsport_lg_thumb_153_195

Here is what the Kingsport Times’ photographer, Ronnie Ezell, claims is the prize picture of the year (well, day anyway). He says this plane sliced the steeple at the First Presbyterian Church and despite the condition of the airplane’s wing fluttered off in the direction of Gate City. (Or maybe the photographer said he was the one who had just fluttered in from Gate City.)” [Kingsport Times (Tennessee) – Apr 1, 1942]

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“Fun-loving Americans spend about $8,000,000 a year on tricky gadgets which make good fun on April Fool’s Day. Here are a few you should watch out for this year: Plate Lifter — Your blueplate gets a bouncing wanderlust; Hot Salt — It comes out pepper; Inseparable Saucer — Sticks to cup; Tough Doughnut — A rubber sinker; Dribble Glass — April showers.” [AP Features April 1 1944]

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Radio-Craft magazine, in an article credited to Grego Banshuk, announced what it declared was “the biggest development in television up to now” — the Visie-Talkie. It was a portable television handset. In other words, a handheld videophone.

Banshuk explained that the device had been made possible by the invention of “non-scanning television” technology, which involved “thousands of fine wires… bunched very close together.”

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Museum of Hoaxes

The humour of Laurel and Hardy

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Today is the 53 rd anniversary of the passing away of Stan Laurel, time to look back at some of the wonderful and funny moments he and his ‘Partner in Crime’ delivered for our entertainment.

The power of the humour of Laurel and Hardy is that it did not date, it is still as fresh today as it was then.

Here are just some of their classic lines, very dry but very funny.

From ‘Another Fine Mess’

Ollie “Call me a Cab” Stan “Huh” Ollie “Call me a Cab” Stan “You’re a Cab”

L&H portrait 1929 Derby Pose

From Sons of the Desert

Ollie: You’d better take my temperature….. get that thermometer.
Stan: The what?
Ollie: Thermometer! You’ll find it on the shelf.
(Stan places the thermometer into Ollie’s mouth and starts to take his pulse)
Ollie: What does it say?
Stan: Wet and windy.

sonsofthedesert

From Way out West.

Lady “What did he die off” Stan ” I think he died of a Tuesday”

Capture stan

From Brats

Stan “You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led.”

brats

 

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Mein Krampf- Laughing away the Holocaust.

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I am staring off by saying I know I will be getting angry comments, saying how disrespectful  I am. How do I know this?

I did post a blog before with the title “Holocaust and Humour” after I published it,a lot of people complained and even called it disgusting, When I asked if they read the blog the all said “no” they had only seen the title and that was enough, But each of them came back and praised the blog after reading it.

For this blog it will probably be the same, some will see the title(not even realizing that it starts with Mein Krampf-My Cramp- rather then Mein Kampf)

I can assure you nothing in this blog will be disrespectful in fact the opposite will be true.

Even in the darkest of times many holocaust victims were able to resort to humour as a coping mechanism to deal with the horrors that surrounded them on a daily basis

In the ghettoes, Hitler’s  self proclaimed “masterpiece” was referred to as Mein Krampf (My Cramp).His theory of the “Master Race” was the subject of many jokes. Following are a few of them.

“There are two kinds of Aryan, Non Aryan and Barb-Aryan”

“Aryan, blond like Hitler, slender like Goering and tall like Goebbels”

Hitler,_Göring,_Goebbels

The following jokes were heard in the Ghettoes, however I don’t know by whom, But they were recalled by survivors after the war.

“A young boy was asked in the Warsaw Ghetto. What would you like most of all if you were Hitler’s son?

He answered: “to be orphaned.”

“Hitler visits an astrologer  and asked Am I going to lose the war?”
“Yes,” the astrologer said.Then, am I going to die?” Hitler asked.
“Yes.”
“When am I going to die?”“On a Jewish holiday.”
“But on what holiday?”
“Any day you die will be a Jewish holiday.”

Peter Lorre, the famous actor who played the  murderous villain in the Fritz Lang directed movie M in 1931. He resided in Vienna and  was invited by Goebbels to come to Berlin, Goebbels was not aware Lorre was Jewish. Lorre friendly declined the offer and replied. “There isn’t room in Germany for two murderers like Hitler and me.”

PeterLorre

 

Anyone who mocked the Nazi regime would face harsh punishment, including the death penalty. A young Catholic priest Josef Müller, made a joke and was executed for it.

Müller was arrested after repeating a satirical joke about a dying German Wehrmacht soldier  on his deathbed, who asked a  nurse  to lay a portrait of Hitler on his one side, a portrait of Göring on the other. Then, he gasped: “Now I can die like Jesus Christ. between two thieves” Müller was interrogated and temporarily taken into custody on 6 September 1943 under charges of comparing Hitler and Göring with the two criminals crucified alongside Jesus Christ.

The indictment against Müller called this joke “one of the most vile and most dangerous attacks directed on our confidence in our Führer. . . . It is a betrayal of the people, the Führer, and the Reich. Although he was interrogated and tortured several times he would not divulge where he got the joke from. He was executed by guillotine n September 11 1944.

Joseph_Mueller_(Priester)

Auschwitz survivor Emil Fackenheim simply said “We kept our morale through humour”

 

In the summer of 1943 a satire was performed in Dachau concentration camp. The play lasted for several weeks.The main character was Count Adolar, a thinly disguised Hitler, The satire was written by Rudolf Kalmar.

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He survived the camp and became a popular actor in East Germany after the war. Another survivor, described the effect of this satire on the camp inmates: “Many of them, who sat behind the rows of the SS each night and laughed with a full heart, didn’t experience the day of freedom. But most among them took from this demonstration strength to endure their situation. . . . They had the certainty, as they lay that night on their wooden bunks: We have done something that gives strength to our comrades. We have made the Nazis look ridiculous.

 

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HOLOCAUST TEACHER RESOURCE CENTER

 

 

 

 

Corporal Mel Brooks

Mel

“I was a Combat Engineer. Isn’t that ridiculous? The two things I hate most in the world are combat and engineering.” — Mel Brooks

By far one of the funniest people on earth,Mel Brooks, born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn in 1926.

I won’t go into his life as Comedian,Director.Actor,Producer and Singer because I’d be here forever. In this blog my focus is on his role in WWII.

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Mel Brooks was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926 as Melvin Kaminsky to Jewish parents from Germany and Ukraine. Brooks lost his father when he was two years old, and in retrospect, reflects on that event as the genesis for his farcical comedy style: “I’m sure a lot of my comedy is based on anger and hostility. Growing up in Williamsburg, I learned to clothe it in comedy to spare myself problems – like a punch in the face.”

Before he could complete his degree in psychology from Brooklyn College, Brooks was drafted into the Army to fight during World War II. He served as a corporal in the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion, 78th Infantry Division as a combat engineer.The 1104th had been activated in March 1943 and landed in Normandy on 11 June 1944. It advanced with the Allied forces through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands and entered German downloadOne of his tasks during the war was to defuse land mines, and he also fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

It has been reported that when the Germans played propaganda recordings over loudspeakers, Brooks responded by setting up his own sound system and played music by Al Jolson, a Jewish musician.

I would have loved to see the reaction of the Nazis as the music of Al Jolson was blaring away. I don’t know what songs Mel Brooks picked to play but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was “The Jazz Singer” a double whammy a Jewish singer singing the music Hitler hated most.

Even at war he had a sense of humour. Mel Brooks a Hero in the truest sense of the word. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

Mel Brooks Jeep

 

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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