You know who else had his head torn off?
July 5, 2008 6:24 AM   Subscribe

Displaying Hitler alongside celebrities, pop stars, world statesmen and sporting heroes at the new Madame Tussauds in Berlin was a bit controversial to begin with. And it didn't last long before one of the first visitors literally tore off the Fuehrer's head.
posted by sour cream (71 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Neat!
posted by gc at 6:30 AM on July 5, 2008


I bitched about this very same problem here in Hong Kong in 2004, but no one cared.
posted by bwg at 6:34 AM on July 5, 2008


Wow... mere minutes after it went on display. And by a 41-year-old man who never lived a day during Hitler's reign.

Germany really hates Hitler. I wonder if "hating Hitler" has become a little too institutionalized over there - what's worth protesting about his wax-work replica? He's gone, a villain of the past and a clear lesson to the future (which the Germans have learned) and while he and the associated history should indeed have a lasting emotional resonance, the action it inspires should be against today's tyrants. Not statues of yesterday's.

As a historical figure, Hitler has as much right to this kind of depiction as any.
posted by chudmonkey at 6:35 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I understand the urge.

But more widely speaking: When the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Soviet empire crashed, among the first things that happened was people tearing down statues of Stalin and Lenin, disfiguring paintings of them etc.

Is this the right thing to do? Or should such monuments be left as warnings to future generations?

(Should cities be renamed? )

(Should we edit the past? Apropos the Boing Boing thread.)
posted by Dumsnill at 6:48 AM on July 5, 2008


Bunch of Krauts, that's what they are. All of 'em. Bad eggs.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:01 AM on July 5, 2008


This is why we can't have evil things.
posted by pracowity at 7:02 AM on July 5, 2008 [29 favorites]


Should we edit the past?

In case someone tries to rewrite the shameful past of your nation please just revert to the original article and avoid bitching about it in the discussion page.
posted by darkripper at 7:09 AM on July 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Tearing down a statue of a despot that was commissioned and built during the despot's rule is symbolic and important in many ways. Ripping the head off a statue of a despot built 60 years after the despot's death as some strange sort of historical curiosity/commercial enterprise is just dumb.

It's natural for people to be curious about Hitler and his deeds. His life story contains so much of what is considered taboo or illicit in modern, western culture that we're bound to be captivated by it. But the healthy thing if for us each to indulge our own personality to whatever extent it demands, make our own analysis and judgements, and then go about our lives peacefully as others do the same.

Guys like head-ripper are basically condemning the curiosity of others. They never developed strategies for coping rationally with their own strong emotions - they never learned the difference between curiosity and enthusiasm - so they want to remove the objects of illicit emotional content from view altogether.

For the 10-year-olds in the crowd, Hitler was Voldemort. Dumbledore told us that fearing something's very name (or likeness) stops us from mastering our emotions and understanding the thing itself.
posted by chudmonkey at 7:10 AM on July 5, 2008 [10 favorites]


Wow. I was just thinking, I hope his head falls off!

And it did!
posted by dobbs at 7:12 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. I was up all night planning my invasion of France & Poland but this guy has led me to seriously question my intentions. God bless you, sir!
posted by mattholomew at 7:39 AM on July 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's natural for people to be curious about Hitler and his deeds. His life story contains so much of what is considered taboo or illicit in modern, western culture that we're bound to be captivated by it.

And what exactly do people learn about that from looking at some wax figure? This was just some stupid tourist attraction that was put there to generate income.
posted by snownoid at 7:47 AM on July 5, 2008


And what exactly do people learn about that from looking at some wax figure?

"Daddy, who is that?"

"Well, [explanation]..."
posted by Cyrano at 8:01 AM on July 5, 2008


I was expecting a lot more head jokes and/or wax jokes and/or Hitler jokes in this thread.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:11 AM on July 5, 2008


OK, stinkycheese - Where did Hitler hide his armies?

In his sleevies!
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 8:19 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's more like it.

Wax on. Wax off.

Etc.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:22 AM on July 5, 2008


Invade Russia? Surely you've lost your head mein fürher.
posted by three blind mice at 8:22 AM on July 5, 2008


Mein Fürher. Your barber Herr Goldberg is here to take a little off the top.
posted by three blind mice at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2008


Police were called to the museum and the man was arrested shortly afterwards. Police said he would be charged with causing wilful damage to property.

It was a fair Kopf.
posted by laumry at 8:28 AM on July 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Some days, it's just very hard to be Hitler.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 AM on July 5, 2008


Your first day at the new job, you're a little nervous, a little downcast. They put you back in that bunker of all places, no good memories there, right?

And you've only been there a few minutes and some guy comes in and takes your head off.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:32 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Q: How many Hitlers does it take to invade Poland?
A: One is sufficient, provided he first throws off the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles and secures the southern flank by annexing Moravia.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:36 AM on July 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


Q: Why did the Hitler cross the road?
A: He was a megalomaniac whose urge to conquer was insatiable.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:37 AM on July 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Q: What's worse than finding a Hitler in your apple?
A: Living under the brutal rule of Hand Frank in the General Government.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:38 AM on July 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't see anybody trying to do the same to Erich Honecker's wax figure.
posted by oaf at 8:38 AM on July 5, 2008


Hans, shit.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:39 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Q: What do you get when you cross a Hitler with an octopus?
A: I don't know either, but you should see it gesticulate while giving an impassioned speech.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:41 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wish there was a good opening for a Dr. Strangelove reference in here.
posted by danb at 8:42 AM on July 5, 2008


Herr Goldberg was 70 years late.

How did Hitler tie his shoes? In little Nazis.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:43 AM on July 5, 2008


Who wants to play Risk?
posted by Dizzy at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2008


Ah, MetaFilter. Never let your ignorance get in the way of a good snark.

There are Germans who post here, and if I'm wrong in what I write here, I'll gladly defer to one of them. But in the meantime, maybe it's worth thinking a little bit about the cultural and political climate in Germany today, instead of treating this guy like he's some PCnik run amok.

There remains a deep and abiding unease in Germany regarding the display, not only of symbols and iconography from the Nazi past, but of any sort of nationalism at all. This 41 year old was born in 1967, meaning that he was educated in the midst of the country's active attempt to come to terms with its fascist past. For this generation, the act of confrontation with the consequences of Nazism was a core civic act. The central concern of governmental officials and educators was to educate citizens who were ethically aware enough to form a bulwark against resurgent fascism.

Since that time has passed and the war generation is dying, the society is starting to relax from this concern. Kids still visit concentration camps on school trips, but there isn't a driving sense of political purpose behind it. It's a pedagogical reflex and not much more. There are increasingly vocal calls to reform school curricula in a way that would decrease the attention given the war years. Germany's participation in NATO actions in former Yugoslavia and today in Afghanistan have shown that military force can be exercised without tipping over into violent nationalism. For many of this guy's generation, these developments create tremendous unease. More than a few in Germany today are afraid of seeing their country stumble blindly back into fascism.

Overreacting you say? Maybe. But there were plenty of Germans during Euro2008 who were creeped out by the jubilant and omnipresent display of the German flag in cities and towns. Obviously, there were just as many flag displayers who didn't give a damn. But I promise you that the police were working overtime, and people were treading carefully after the Germany/Turkey game. Worries of anti-immigrant (or anti-German) riots were, at least where I was, quite common. It was common to see Turkish or Italian flags flown alongside the German flag, and it was never clear (at least to me) if this was a sign of a happily assimilated immigrant population, or an attempt to forestall acts of nativist aggression.

If something as anodyne as a sporting event and the display of national colors can provoke such unease, then what is so surprising about the urge to destroy a depiction in statuary of the arch-fascist himself? Hitler is, for that generation, the personal reflex of the rampant German id. The man who destroyed his statue was educated and came into his political maturity knowing that rejection of all forms of celebration of that id was a core civic act. If the rest of the society is beginning to get on with the business of being a normal liberal democracy, and if fascism has long since consummated its loveless marriage with corporate capitalism, we should at least pause to respect the position of people like this guy. He's not a ninny. He's terrified of seeing his country start another war, exterminate another nation, or corrupt itself once again with fantasies of triumph. If he's engaging in civil disobedience to represent that fear in the public square, then I promise you that somewhere, at least one of his teachers is smiling...however uneasily.
posted by felix betachat at 8:53 AM on July 5, 2008 [27 favorites]


He's not a ninny. He's terrified of seeing his country start another war, exterminate another nation, or corrupt itself once again with fantasies of triumph. If he's engaging in civil disobedience to represent that fear in the public square, then I promise you that somewhere, at least one of his teachers is smiling...however uneasily.

That's some industrial strength projecting there. Seems much more likely that he was just mentally ill.
posted by mattholomew at 9:17 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the guy beheaded the statue because it was HAWT in a way Hitler never was.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:19 AM on July 5, 2008


That's some industrial strength projecting there. Seems much more likely that he was just mentally ill.

I disagree for all the reasons I outlined above. There's no need to speculate on mental illness when the actions are perfectly comprehensible from within a given cultural frame of reference. Moreover, I think it's very likely that Mme Tussaud's was being intentionally provocative and culturally insensitive. They probably considered the possibility of defacement and reckoned that any controversy would drive ticket sales.
posted by felix betachat at 9:28 AM on July 5, 2008


Okay, I'm in!

Q: How did Hitler tie his shoes?
A: In little Nazis.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:30 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn you Daddy-o.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:31 AM on July 5, 2008


How many Hitlers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Just one, assuming it's not the lightbulb in the Reichstag, which, as the result of arson, created the opportunity for Hitler to suspend human rights and fan anti-communist hysteria, which he used, in part, as a tool to amass unfettered power and popularity.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:39 AM on July 5, 2008


Little known fact about Hitler: his body was found by the Russians only half-burned due to fuel shortages, and they transported him across Germany, sporadically burying him and digging him back up, until finally they deposited him in Marburg in a secret grave. They were concerned to prevent neo-Nazi pilgrimages to the site, apparently, and in 1970 they dug him up at night, cremated him and tossed him in the river. Except for his skull, which was kept in a cigar box in some KGB archive.

betachat: I live in Kreuzberg, and I saw some of the games in Neukölln, which is even more of an immigrant district. Yeah, we saw lots of Turkish establishments with German and Turkish flags. I don't want to say it's "a sign of a happily assimilated immigrant population", but I doubt they were scared of nativist aggression...not in these parts. After the game everyone was happy, except for one young Turkish guy who pulled out his dick in front of a whole bar and told us all to fuck our sister, and subsequently got shoved around a bit by five German-looking men.

I tend to think our head-ripper here overreacted. We have to allow depictions of Hitler, obviously, because of how important he is in history, so how did head-ripper decide that this particular depiction is nefarious? Because it wasn't accompanied by any moralizing sermons on how bad the guy was? I suppose maybe he thought Hitler shouldn't be a tourist attraction. If that's his justification, I suppose I understand, but I sort of doubt whether he even thought it that far. I'm biased because I've seen and spoken to enough of the aimlessly furious peuso-Marxists floating around Berlin who have no position except indignation and will call you fascist at the drop of a hat, and I think it's very likely that this guy is a ninny. These people will call you a fascist just for rooting for the German team. (I was for Turkey.)

I was also dismayed at seeing all the flags around the time of the last world cup a few years ago -- the major reason I came here is to get away from all the flags -- but the flags will be gone in a few weeks; they have everything to do with soccer and nothing to do with a wax Hitler. And, with all due respect, I think it is rather ninny-ish to be afraid of Germany exterminating another nation at this point in history. So yeah, I understand the guy's visceral response to a statue of Hitler, but I maintain that he should've thought about it more.

Not that I give a shit about Madame Tussaud's.
posted by creasy boy at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2008


Thing is, Hitler doesn't mean the same thing to Germans as to everybody else. To non-Germans, he represents all of Nazism, the holocaust, fascism, racism, hatred, pure evil and on and on. The Germans, however, realize that he was only one man among many, and that the "many" includes their close relatives, and/or their friends or their friends' relatives, and/or themselves. Hitler may have been the ringleader, but he would have been nothing without grandpa and uncle Fritz.

So, really, Germany doesn't need a wax statue of Hitler. If they want to see a Nazi, they can look out the window.

Sure, there's probably a good-intentioned effort to show the world that they're not white-washing their history, but all the statue could serves to do is a) stir up a renewed anti-German sentiment and b) fetishize Hitler and Nazism, among both Germans and visiting tourists. Maybe someone will be educated slightly, but really, who doesn't already know about Hitler?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:46 AM on July 5, 2008


The guy made the right decision. Hitler is not entertainment (yet).
posted by tkolar at 9:47 AM on July 5, 2008


I disagree for all the reasons I outlined above. There's no need to speculate on mental illness when the actions are perfectly comprehensible from within a given cultural frame of reference. Moreover, I think it's very likely that Mme Tussaud's was being intentionally provocative and culturally insensitive. They probably considered the possibility of defacement and reckoned that any controversy would drive ticket sales.

Rrrright. Except that they're perfectly comprehensible from within the frame of reference that he was psychotic, or from the frame of reference that he was on meth, or from a boatload of other frames of reference. The difference is that those aren't the scenarios you thought up, and obviously the one you really, really want to be right.
posted by mattholomew at 10:02 AM on July 5, 2008


mattholomew, maybe it occurred to him that what he was planning to do would appear to be psychotic, but did not let it deter him. Not wanting to appear psychotic can restrain people from all kinds of perfectly good deeds.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:21 AM on July 5, 2008


Don't mention the war.
posted by pracowity at 11:03 AM on July 5, 2008


Sure, there's probably a good-intentioned effort to show the world that they're not white-washing their history, but all the statue could serves to do is a) stir up a renewed anti-German sentiment and b) fetishize Hitler and Nazism, among both Germans and visiting tourists.

Apparently there's been a wax Hitler in the London Tussaud's for a while. Also, isn't it a private company? So I don't think they have any intentions to show the world anything about Germans and history.

Come to think of it, the state policy here with swastikas is basically that they're only allowed for educational purposes, and I'm surprised that this policy doesn't extend to depictions of Hitler. But if it did, then Chaplin's The Great Dictator would also have to be banned.
posted by creasy boy at 11:08 AM on July 5, 2008


I mentioned the it once, but I think I got away with it.
posted by MNDZ at 11:20 AM on July 5, 2008


Hitler is not entertainment (yet).

Huh?

Don't mention the war.

There would be far less British humor without him...
posted by three blind mice at 12:07 PM on July 5, 2008


Hitler is not entertainment (yet).

Springtime for Hitler (yt).

The lyrics:
CHORUS:
Germany was having trouble
What a sad, sad story
Needed a new leader to restore
Its former glory
Where, oh, where was he?
Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me
LEAD TENOR STORMTROOPER:
And now it's...
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay!
We're marching to a faster pace
Look out, here comes the master race!
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Rhineland's a fine land once more!
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Watch out, Europe
We're going on tour!
Springtime for Hitler and Germany...
CHORUS:
Look, it's springtime
LEAD TENOR STORMTROOPER:
Winter for Poland and France
CHORUS AND STORMTROOPER:
Springtime for Hitler and Germany!
CHORUS:
Springtime! Springtime!
Springtime! Springtime!
Springtime! Springtime!
Springtime! Springtime!
STORMTROOPER:
Come on, Germans
Go into your dance!
STORMTROOPER "ROLF":
I was born in Dusseldorf und that is why they call me Rolf.
STORMTROOPER "MEL":
Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi party!
ULLA:
The Fuhrer is coming, the Fuhrer is coming, the Fuhrer is coming!
STORMTROOPER #1:
Heil Hitler!
STORMTROOPER #2:
Heil Hitler!
LEAD TENOR STORMTROOPER:
Heil Hitler!
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
ALL:
Heil Hitler!
ROGER:
Heil myself
Heil to me
I'm the kraut
Who's out to change our history
Heil myself
Raise your hand
There's no greater
Dictator in the land!
Everything I do, I do for you!
CHORUS:
Yes, you do!
ROGER:
If you're looking for a war, here's World War Two!
Heil myself
Raise your beer
CHORUS:
Jawohl!
ROGER:
Ev'ry hotsy-totsy Nazi stand and cheer
CHORUS:
Hooray!
Ev'ry hotsy-totsy Nazi...
ROGER:
Heil myself!
CHORUS:
Ev'ry hotsy-totsy Nazi...
ROGER:
Heil myself!
CHORUS:
Ev'ry hotsy-totsy Nazi...
ROGER:
...stand and cheer!
THE HEIL-LOs:
The Fuhrer is causing a furor!
He's got those Russians on the run
You gotta love that wacky hun!
The Fuhrer is causing a furor
They can't say "no" to his demands
They're freaking out in foreign lands
He's got the whole world in his hands
The Fuhrer is causing a furor!
ROGER:
I was just a paper hanger
No one more obscurer
Got a phone call from the Reichstag
Told me I was Fuhrer
Germany was blue
What, oh, what to do?
Hitched up my pants
And conquered France
Now Deutschland's smiling through!
But it wasn't always so easy...
It was 1932. Hindenburg was working the Big Room and I...
I was playing the lounge. And then I got my big break.
Somebody burned down the Reichstag. And, would you believe it?
They made me Chancellor. Chancellor!
It ain't no myst'ry
If it's politics or hist'ry
The thing you gotta know is
Ev'rything is show biz
Heil myself
Watch my show
I'm the German Ethel Merman
Dontcha know
We are crossing borders
The new world order is here
Make a great big smile
Ev'ryone sieg heil to me
Wonderful me!
And now it's...
CHORUS:
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Goose-step's the new step today


ROGER:
Springtime!
Goose-steps!
CHORUS MEN:
Bombs falling from the skies again
CHORUS:
Deutschland is on the rise again
ROGER & CHORUS:
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
U-boats are sailing once more
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
ROGER:
Means that...
CHORUS:
Soon we'll be going...
ROGER:
We've got to be going...
CHORUS:
You know we'll be going....
ROGER:
You bet we'll be going...
ROGER & CHORUS:
You know we'll be going to war!!
And, seriously, what are all those bloody documentaries and biographies if not entertainment? People may claim they're only studying him in some oh so important way, but they're enjoying themselves. Being entertained. By Hitler.
posted by pracowity at 12:23 PM on July 5, 2008


They ripped his head off? How does he smell?
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 12:28 PM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of another evil leader's statue being decapitated

Oh and the London Tussauds has had a Hitler for years (remember seeing it as a kid)... but you know, it's not Germany
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:39 PM on July 5, 2008


Hitler is not entertainment (yet)

This attitude, at it's extreme, is what makes people rip heads off statues. Social standards are never absolutes, and everything is always entertainment to someone. And by the same token, everything is always offensive to some, hilarious to some, wrenching to some, boring to some. It's just a part of society that we're supposed to accept this and allow other people freedom in the same arenas we enjoy it.

Tusauds's is a business, and a statue of Hitler that you need to buy a ticket to see doesn't even come close to violating a law, even in Nazi-sensitive Germany. Everyone one of us can make choices as consumers and avoid (and even decry) products we find offensive, and we can serve society by making choices like that. But vandalism of any kind is selfish - it's a statement that says the vandal's subjective value judgement is more important that everyone else's access the non-vandalized item/locate.

To the extent that one can fairly anthropomorphize a nation, Germany was wise to avoid a lot of nationalistic fervour after Hitler so suavely took advantage of it to such ill effect. As a nation, they learned a lesson the hard way. But from an individual stand-point, being wary of zealotry and doing anything to reduce the public profile of Hitler are on different ends of the spectrum; we need to be keenly aware of how tyrants operate so that we can recognize them before they've stolen our loyalty or squashed our freedoms.

It doesn't matter if head-ripper did what he did because he was indoctrinated, unbalanced or trying to impress a girl - he's a mis-guided criminal in this scenario . I hope that a sensible judge sternly reprimands him and lets him off easy, but he should never have given into the idea that the image of someone is dangerous, and he certainly shouldn't have tried to impose his view on the general public (of Tusaud's visitors).
posted by chudmonkey at 12:48 PM on July 5, 2008


Crowds came to hear Hitler speak....crowds erotically charged, the masses he once called his only bride. . . .There must have been something different about hose crowds. What was it? . . . Death. Crowds came to form a shield . . . to become a crowd is to keep out death.

White Noise on White Noise

posted by KokuRyu at 12:51 PM on July 5, 2008


All I heard was Howard Cosell's voice - "Down goes Hitler, Down goes Hitler"!!!
posted by Senator at 2:45 PM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


cocks a snook
Huh?
posted by Stewriffic at 4:22 PM on July 5, 2008


Does anyone know if they saved Hitler's brain?
posted by No-sword at 5:53 PM on July 5, 2008


there's a kind of "interview" with the guy on spiegel online. Translation:
-Why did you rip off the hitlers head?
-No comment.
-What did the police say?
-It will cost a lot of money.
-Was it worth it?
-No.
posted by kolophon at 7:00 PM on July 5, 2008


Does anyone know if they saved Hitler's brain?

I know they saved his cock. And, if it could choose a mate, it would ask for Sharon Tate.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:05 PM on July 5, 2008


The news report indicated the guy had made his intentions known before the unveiling. This brings up a couple questions for me.

Did this head-ripper guy buy a ticket to get into Madame Tussaud's so that he could rip off the wax figure's head? This guy PAID to deface property. That's like religious zealots buying Playboy magazines or 'satanic' music records for the sole purpose of burning them in a bonfire. In fact, defacing a work of art like a Hitler statue is just as wrong as burning books. You are silencing a creative voice. Even if the voice is spouting hatred. This guy was trying to make a public statement that Germany has put Hitler behind them, but his act proves that some germans did not learn anything.

Why did the Madame Tussaud's people even let him in? He told them his plan was to deface the artwork. Like any business, Madame Tussaud's can reserve the right to refuse any patron for any reason. He essentially paid them to trespass and damage their property. His paying and their accepting payment means he didn't legally trespass, and if he had made his intentions clear ahead of time, and they were well aware of his intentions, then they indirectly gave him permission to do what he did.
"The museum guards tried to restrain him, but he fought them off and then tore off the waxwork figure's head. Afterwards several visitors to the exhibition managed to restrain him,"
What kind of lame security does Madame Tussaud's have, that it took other patrons to restrain him? Did this guy fill himself on crack cocaine before he attacked the statue? The news report makes it sound like it took several people to take him down like he was some crazed wild animal. Methinks we're not getting the full story here. Methinks they knew he was gonna do it, and they let him, cuz they knew it'd stir international conspiracy and be free publicity for Madame Tussaud's.

If you don't want to support Madame Tussaud's choices for wax figures, here's an idea: don't give them money. Don't patronize places that you don't like.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:07 AM on July 6, 2008


ZachsMind: security guards in Germany don't look very tough. In America there seems to be a surplus of big brawny guys in need of employment, whereas here pretty much everyone's skinny and wears glasses. Also people here are pretty civil, and when they're not usually the sight of a uniform is enough to calm things down. It's easily possible that these guards have never had to actually restrain anyone. I guarantee you I would be able to cave in the nuts of Hitler, Napoleon, David Hasselhof and at least five or six others before any one could stop me, unless there happened to be a group of American tourists nearby. Basically I'm saying that Germans don't really have the "let's roll!" mentality.

I don't see where you get the idea that the director of the museum knew he was going to deface anything.
posted by creasy boy at 7:35 AM on July 6, 2008


In all seriousness, I think it's pretty understandable that a wax figure of Hitler being displayed in a Berlin Madame Tussaud's would be defaced (literally, heh) upon exhibition. Not right, but understandable.

The fact that it happened almost immediately is suggestive of really strong feelings on the part of the guy who did it. Also, he didn't rip the head off of [insert name of non-contentious wax person here] after all; there is something more to defacing Hitler's image than the standard historical figure or celebrity.

I love the fact that he didn't throw paint or hold up a sign, he actually ripped the head clean off with his bare hands. And this was broadcast around the world.

If you were the artist who had created Hitler's head (and yes, it is strange to consider someone doing that), you would of course be livid, and justly so. Similarly, if you were next in line at the wax museum, you might be justifiably angry, and not see what was so cool about it at all (though you would have a good story).

But still, from my vantage point, huzzah for ripping Hitler's head off.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:10 PM on July 6, 2008


To parody Steve Taylor's "Meltdown" (YT):

"Meltdown at Madame Tussaud's,
The Fuehrer's losing face!"
posted by symbioid at 2:00 PM on July 6, 2008


Hitler is not entertainment (yet)
This attitude, at it's extreme, is what makes people rip heads off statues.

Yep, sure is.

[Taussaud's Hitler] doesn't even come close to violating a law,

Yep, sure doesn't. That's why civil disobedience was required to rid us of the thing.

...it's a statement that says the vandal's subjective value judgement...

First of all, I'm not aware of any *other* kind of value judgment. Second, vandalism would have been going into Taussaud's and laying about randomly with spray paint and baseball bats for the sheer joy of destruction. Specifically walking in and ripping the head off of a single statue falls under the heading "making a social statement".

Methinks had you been in charge in 1546, Martin Luther would have been dismissed as a vandal for nailing things to the church door.
posted by tkolar at 2:06 PM on July 6, 2008


Methinks had you been in charge in 1546, Martin Luther would have been dismissed as a vandal for nailing things to the church door.

The church door was the place where you nailed public announcements back then. And it's not clear if he nailed anything there in the first place.

More to the point: I don't think you can uphold this principle that Hitler is not entertainment. Am I not allowed to make Hitler jokes? What about Chaplin making fun of Hitler -- is that not allowed? Is this allowed?

And does this extend to Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.? Does it extend to Bush? Why just Hitler?

I would've laughed my ass off to see rip wax Hitler's head off and I certainly wouldn't have restrained him, but honestly, what "social statement" has this guy made? Apparently he yelled "no more war", at least according to the tabloids here. Is the principle that no-one who started a war can be displayed for entertainment purposes? Has he really made an effective anti-war statement?
posted by creasy boy at 1:57 AM on July 7, 2008


... huzzah for ripping Hitler's head off.

Because who hasn't felt like doing that?

I mean, if you had a time machine.
posted by bwg at 3:20 AM on July 7, 2008


The church door was the place where you nailed public announcements back then.

Yes, but oddly enough the door of a Catholic church was *not* an appropriate place for 95 theses on why the Catholic church was a corrupt behemoth.

what "social statement" has this guy made?

The statement was: "Hitler is not entertainment."

I understand that you and many others disagree with that, or would prefer that he had written a strongly worded letter, or picketed the museum, or chose some other way to convey his thoughts on the matter, but frankly I think he chose one of the most direct and memorable ways possible to make his point. I admire that.

No one was harmed, Germany has waited 60 years for a wax Hitler to ogle so another 3 months won't matter much, the only people even inconvenienced by this is Taussaud's and they will receive renumeration through the courts as well as publicity worth many many times the repair costs. In the meantime, people on the other side of the world have taken notice of the issue and a lively debate has ensued. Civil disobedience doesn't get much better than that.
posted by tkolar at 9:17 AM on July 7, 2008


Similarly, if you were next in line at the wax museum, you might be justifiably angry, and not see what was so cool about it at all (though you would have a good story).

Definitely a good story. The first successful assassination of Hitler!

Apparently he yelled "no more war"...

A really stupid thing to say if you're taking a stand against Hitler, since it took the biggest war in history to stop Hitler.
But I guess it's a little snazzier than "No more Hitler" which can be construed in all kinds of ways. "No more wax figures of dictators" might have been another option.
posted by sour cream at 11:06 AM on July 7, 2008


tkolar,

...vandalism would have been going into Taussaud's and laying about randomly with spray paint and baseball bats for the sheer joy of destruction. Specifically walking in and ripping the head off of a single statue falls under the heading "making a social statement"...

Actually, both of these examples could be construed as either vandalism or social statements, depending on viewpoint. The crucial thing is that all vandalism is formally criminal and not all social statements require vandalism (assuming any truly do).

Methinks had you been in charge in 1546, Martin Luther would have been dismissed as a vandal for nailing things to the church door.

No, if I'd been in charge Luther would have been punished for nailing things to the church door. He would have been dismissed as an idiot who believed in God.

Your apparent contention that criminals aren't really criminals if they are engaged in social statements is ludicrous within the framework of actual society. Who would judge the validity of every individual's actions? Can I steal candy bars and expect impunity if I truly believe that Hershey's is an evil empire? Can I kill an elected official because I don't like the legislation he's pushing, go to court and plead "revolutionary"?

If you agree with head-ripper that images of Hitler presented for commercial purposes are unacceptable, that's fine. I would never presume to squelch your attitude. But if you agree with head-ripper that wanton destruction of someone else's property is an acceptable early step in personally protesting something then you should at least acknowledge that you are enjoying legal protection for your person and property that you would contentedly strip from others. A fair & free society is even easier to live in when you're only concerned for your own freedom and fair treatment, eh?
posted by chudmonkey at 11:38 AM on July 7, 2008


The statement was: "Hitler is not entertainment."

And I tried to suggest why this isn't a very good statement. I have a comic book about Hitler here in the apartment that I don't wish to have banned or confiscated. And you haven't yet said how you would explain your principle to Charlie Chaplin, who was making Hitler into entertainment more than 60 years ago. And it wasn't the guy's statement anyways, the guy's statement was "no more war".

I understand that you and many others disagree with that, or would prefer that he had written a strongly worded letter, or picketed the museum, or chose some other way to convey his thoughts on the matter


No, his method is fine with me, I just wish he had better thoughts on the matter. "No more genocide" or "no more fascism" would have at least been relevant.

And as for Luther: it wasn't the damage to the door that got him in trouble, so there's no real parallel here.
posted by creasy boy at 12:27 PM on July 7, 2008


Methinks had you been in charge in 1546, Martin Luther would have been dismissed as a vandal for nailing things to the church door.

1517

Yes, but oddly enough the door of a Catholic church was *not* an appropriate place for 95 theses on why the Catholic church was a corrupt behemoth.

It was a university church. It was routine to post disputationes on the church door as a manner of university business. There was nothing unusual about the act and little groundbreaking about the theses themselves.
posted by prosthezis at 12:19 AM on July 8, 2008


♫ Alright, so people say that you don't care
But you've got nicer legs than Hitler
And bigger tits than Cher
Henry Kissinger, how I'm missing yer
And wishing you were here ♫
posted by Meatbomb at 7:21 AM on July 8, 2008


When Der Fuehrer says, "We ist der master race"
We HEIL! HEIL! Rip off Der Fuehrer's face
Not to love Der Fuehrer is a great disgrace
So we HEIL! HEIL! Rip off Der Fuehrer's face

Apologies to Spike Jones
posted by bwg at 3:53 PM on July 8, 2008


The backstory.
posted by felix betachat at 9:08 AM on July 12, 2008


It turns out that Frank L. had been dared by his pub mates the previous night...

Awesome. A Beer Hall Putsch indeed.
posted by tkolar at 12:49 PM on July 12, 2008


« Older Don't want to hassle with going to an amusement pa...  |  Biofuels have forced global fo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments