Imagine that Hitler wakes up in modern-day, flourishing, multi-cultural Berlin. This is the premise of the debut novel He’s Back (Er ist wieder da), by German journalist Timur Vermes. And although the reviews are less than positive, the book has become a bestseller.
According to reviewer Cornelia Fiedler of the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, the success of this political satire “cannot be based on the novel’s quality”. Rather, she says, it is probably due to an growing, mear-manic fixation with Hitler in Germany, adding that there is a danger that historical fact could be overwhelmed by fiction.
In Mr Vermes’s book, Hitler wakes up in an empty lot in Berlin in the year 2011. He discovers that Germany is still obsessed with “the Fuhrer” after all these years. Hitler takes advantage of the mood to make a new career as a comedian. As Ms Fielder puts it: “Hitler encounters a public for whom laughing about him has become a symbol of their own enlightenment.”
In 2007, a survey by the German firm Forsa for Stern magazine revealed that 35 per cent of a sample of 1,005 Germans found the idea of laughing about Hitler acceptable.