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Writings of Albert Morris
Article 101 - Goose-stepping days of comic Hitler-bashing

IN the dear, dead days almost beyond even my recall, David Willis, a Scottish comedian with a Hitler-type moustache, cheered-up theatre-goers at the start of the Second World War with hilarious imitations of the Nazi dictatorís outlandish gestures, verbal frenzy and goose-steps. Deep in juice-gurgling rapture, soor plooms and ice-cream cartons, his act reassured them that, when it came to the crunch, Britain would lick Hitler.

The world, however, realised that Hitler was no joke. One of the most graphic illustrations of the menace of the new Germany was shown in Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahlís documentary film of the 1934 Nazi congress at Nuremberg, a brilliantly-conceived and visually-stunning tribute to the Nazi concept of the super race.

One of the most disturbing propaganda films ever made, it is an extravaganza of fluttering swastika flags, robot-like, precision-marching ranks and dramatically-angled shots of jut-jawed, Teutonic profiles symbolically facing the future that would belong to Deutschland uber alles. There was also the shining-eyed sea of devotees of the Austrian-born miracle worker who would secure Germanyís place in the sun and be a scourge of the Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracies and capitalist, worker-exploiting cliques that had shamed and betrayed the nation.

Then he arrived. Adolf Hitler, born Schicklgruber, son of a minor customs official, failed artist, one-time, it is said, house-painter, twice holder of the iron cross for bravery in the First World War, temporary doss-house occupant and now, courtesy of the artistry and lens mastery of Leni, looking like the man of destiny he undoubtedly was and also suggesting something other-worldly but ill-natured, descending from Mount Olympus to rouse the mesmerised masses to new sacrifices.

HIS speech started quietly. Then he began shouting and it was as if he heard Joan of Arc-type voices. His hypnotic eyes glowed, his arms described semaphore signals of destruction to democratic decadents and other enemies of renascent Germany, his hands orchestrated menace to malcontents in the new order and his body, in fury, convulsed like that of a medieval flagellating monk.

It was ham acting, but the crowd loved it. "I go the way that Providence dictates with the assurance of a sleepwalker," he told a Munich audience in 1936, and somnambulistically, it could be said, Germany followed him - "This monstrous product," said Churchill, "of former wrongs and shame" - and his plans for territorial aggrandisement that led to Second World War in which an estimated 55 million people were killed.

In a Twilight of the Gods scenario, amid war-ravaged Berlin, with Russian army units nearing, Hitler and his newly-married wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide at his last-stand bunker; an end fit for the camera of Riefenstahl, of a perverse political genius and the greatest tyrant, genocide-instigator and mass murderer in history.

The guns are silent, the war dead are, mainly, tidily arranged over much of Europe and Hitlerís bones are scattered, who knows where. His memory, nevertheless, lingers like a mist that resists dispersal.

THE great dictator who believed that his plans to establish the 1,000-year Reich was Godís work, has been and still is, understandably, the subject of concentrated scrutiny in literature, theatre, cinema and the media.

The internet has 2,340,000 references to the dictator including, At Home with Hitler, Was Hitler a Rothschild/Christian/Atheist? Hitler was a Lefty and - shockingly - Hitler was a Vegetarian. Doubtless, there will be, Was Hitler a Woman? The Hitler Cookbook and Sing-along with Hitlerís Beer Cellar Favourites.

Rochus Misch (87), the former switchboard operator at Hitlerís bunker, says his "boss" was "nice, so friendly". Now, a new film, The Downfall, will be released in Germany next month that portrays Hitler as a softly-spoken, dreamy, possibly even cuddly dictator, in the last 12 days of his life, kind to his pet dog, gentle to his secretary and a great lover of chocolate cake.

The film is seen as indicating a Germany coming to terms with its past but, from increasing anti-Semitic outbreaks and other racist attacks by neo-Nazis in Germany and other parts of Europe, there would seem a growing hard-core of extremists who revere Hitlerís memory and are eager to follow his poisonous precepts.

Dave Willis, like other comedians, derided Adolf and rocked audiences in these isles. Let us hope that the unrepentant and dangerous fuhrer admirers do not have the last laugh.

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