Panel Discussion Satirical Representations of Hitler in Contemporary Culture

Timur Vermes_Book Cover_Look Who's Back Copyright free


Goethe-Institut New York

The Normalization of the Nazi Past

Together with the German Book Office, the Goethe-Institut New York hosts a panel discussion that examines representations of Adolf Hitler in contemporary western culture, ranging from feature films and advertising campaigns to political caricatures and polemics. The focus of the debate will be on Germany, where the critical memory culture that was set in place in the 1960s has recently been eroded by more satirical approaches to the Nazi past that have their origin in the Anglo-American context and the comedies of figures such as Charlie Chaplin and Ernst Lubitsch. Timur Vermes’ bestselling novel Look Who’s Back (MacLehose 2013) that imagines Hitler returning to life in present-day Berlin is the latest example of this shift in German memory and what appears to be a collective desire for a normalized relationship to the country’s troubled past. The author will be in conversation with New York Times book critic and author Liesl Schillinger, as well as Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Professor of History at Fairfield University and author of Hi Hitler: How the Nazi Past is Being Normalized in Contemporary Culture (2014). The panel will be moderated by Gil Roth, host of the podcast Virtual Memories.


"[Vermes'] book isn’t sharp-fanged, but it’s able to remain both humorous and disturbing after the initial jokiness has passed." (The New York Times)

"... for Mr. Vermes and for other German commentators, the success of Look Who’s Back is also evidence of a generational shift, a sense that 70 years after the end of World War II, it’s time for a new approach that goes beyond monuments and uses dark humor to address the Nazi past." (The New York Times Books)