Dead Funny by Rudolph Herzog
Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany

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Synopsis

In Nazi Germany, telling jokes about Hitler could get you killed
 
Hitler and Göring are standing on top of the Berlin radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to put a smile on the Berliners’ faces. Göring says, “Why don’t you jump?”
 
When a woman told this joke in Germany in 1943, she was arrested by the Nazis and sentenced to death by guillotine—it didn’t matter that her husband was a good German soldier who died in battle.
 
In this groundbreaking work of history, Rudolph Herzog takes up such stories to show how widespread humor was during the Third Reich. It’s a fascinating and frightening history: from the suppression of the anti-Nazi cabaret scene of the 1930s, to jokes made at the expense of the Nazis during WWII, to the collections of “whispered jokes” that were published in the immediate aftermath of the war.
 
Herzog argues that jokes provide a hitherto missing chapter of WWII history. The jokes show that not all Germans were hypnotized by Nazi propaganda, and, in taking on subjects like Nazi concentration camps, they record a public acutely aware of the horrors of the regime. Thus Dead Funny is a tale of terrible silence and cowardice, but also of occasional and inspiring bravery.
 

About Rudolph Herzog

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Rudolph Herzog is the author of Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany. His documentary on humor in the Third Reich, Laughing With Hitler, scored top audience ratings on German Channel 1 and was also broadcast on the BBC. Other film projects include the hit reality crime series The Heist, a collaboration with David Glover that aired on Channel 4 (U.K.), and The Agent, which investigates the Stasi's top nuclear spy and a double agent for the CIA. He is the son of the celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog.Jefferson Chase is one of the foremost translators of German history. He has translated Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Thomas Mann, and Götz Aly, among many others.
 
Published April 26, 2011 by Melville House. 256 pages
Genres: History, Humor & Entertainment, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Dead Funny

PopMatters

According to Rudolph Herzog’s book Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany (now in a translation by Jefferson Chase) the answer is all the time, and via different means and mechanisms.

Jun 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in ...

The National

is the punchline of one of the jokes Herzog relates in the course of his inquiry into just what kinds of humour the German people found funny in the years after 1933, when National Socialism began exerting a tighter hold on Germany society.

Sep 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in ...

Time Out New York

Though Herzog's conclusion that these jokes represent the German people's distrustful relationship to Hitler's regime is debatable, his book's strikingly original historical research sets it apart from the glut of dry tomes which are still being cranked out about Nazi history.

May 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in ...

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