Rudolph Herzog

Dead Funny. Humor in Hitler's Germany

Heil Hitler, das Schwein ist tot!

Dead Funny. Humor in Hitler's Germany

Complete English translation available

In Nazi Germany, telling jokes about Hitler could get you killed

Is it permissible to laugh at Hitler? This is a question that is often debated in Germany today, where, in light of the dimension of the horrors committed in the name of its citizens, many people have difficulty taking a satiric look at the Third Reich. And whenever some do, accusations arise that they are downplaying or trivializing the Holocaust. But there is a long history of jokes about the Nazis.

In this groundbreaking volume, Rudolph Herzog shows that the image of the “ridiculous Führer” was by no means a post-war invention: In the early years of Nazi rule many Germans poked fun at Hitler and other high officials. It’s a fascinating and frightening history: from the suppression of the anti-Nazi cabaret scene of the 1930s, to jokes about Hitler and the Nazis told during WWII, to the collections of “whispered jokes” that were published in the immediate aftermath of the war, to the horrific accounts of Germans who were imprisoned and executed for telling jokes about Hitler and other Nazis.

Significantly, the jokes collected here also show that not all Germans were hypnotized by Nazi propaganda—or unaware of Hitler’s concentration camps, which were also the subject of jokes during the war. In collecting these quips, Herzog pushes back against the argument, advanced in aftermath of World War II, that people were unaware of Hitler’s demonic maneuvering. The truth, Herzog writes, is more troubling: Germans knew much about the actions of their government, joked about it occasionally . . . and failed to act.

“intrguing...[a] fascinating study of jokes during the Third Reich...raises compelling questions” — THE SUNDAY TIMES

“a concise, compelling book” — THE INDEPENDENT

“A thrilling book” — DER SPIEGEL

“The first comprehensive book on comedy and humor in the Third Reich. [...] The author brings together all manifestations of humor-wit, newspaper cartoons, cabaret, variety shows, entertainment, film, pop songs, and musicals... An important history.” — SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG

Dead Funny isn’t just a book of wildly off-limits humor. Rather, it’s a fascinating, heartbreaking look at power dynamics, propaganda, and the human hunger for catharsis.” —THE ATLANTIC, Best Books of 2012

“You’ve never seen Nazi Germany like this.” — THE STRANGER (Seattle)

“Fascinating... Intriguing....Herzog, the son of the Werner Herzog, shares his father’s curious and mordant wit.” — FINANCIAL TIMES

First published in 2006


ISBN: 978-3-462-05170-4
release: 07. June 2018
272 pages, Broschur


9,99 €
0,00 sFr
10,30 €

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About the Author

Rudolph Herzog is an author and director who made an international name for himself with his series “The Heist” (2004). Since then, he has made over a dozen documentaries for ARD, ZDF, arte, National Geographic and BBC. His book Heil Hitler, das Schwein ist tot! (“Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany”) received wide media coverage; The Atlantic magazine chose the English translation as one of its books of the year. In 2014, arte broadcast “Die Atombombe im Vorgarten,” Herzog’s film adaptation of his non-fiction book Der verstrahlte Westernheld (“A Short History of Nuclear Folly”).

Further titles by the author:
Der verstrahlte Westernheld und anderer Irrsinn aus dem Atomzeitalter (A Short History of Nuclear Folly)
Truggestalten (Deceptive Figures)