Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

‘Ignore Hitler,’ Indeed

Internet parodies of the Fuhrer, including a new blog, weaken our memory of the Holocaust—and that’s good

Print Email

It’s 2012, nearly seven decades after the fall of the Reich that was meant to last a millennium (and only fell short by 992 years), yet the hottest meme on the Internet today is still the big man himself: Adolf Hitler. We’ve had cats who look like Hitler, goldfish who look like Hitler, countless YouTube parodies of the bunker scene in Downfall, with strategic subtitles making Bruno Ganz as Hitler rant about everything from the subprime mortgage crisis to the egregious lack of a built-in camera in the new iPod Touch to the humiliating existence of the parodies themselves. The news, a couple of years ago, that a scrupulous bakery employee had refused to furnish a birthday cake reading “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler” to a white supremacist couple who had ordered it for their small son, went viral, and of course, let’s not forget Godwin’s Law—perhaps the oldest and most immutable principle of the Internet—which states that the probability of a Hitler or Nazi mention grows exponentially with the length of the online discussion.

Just a few days ago, my ever-helpful husband forwarded me a link of the latest Nazi-themed sensation sweeping the screens of a nation. It’s a Tumblr titled “Ignore Hitler,” which features colorful mouse-made cartoon images of the Fuhrer in a variety of humorously compromising situations: wrapped like a present; struggling with a sandwich, as a hairy-legged, bow-wielding cupid with a swastika-shaped birthmark visible on his nude behind, and more.

It’s admittedly gratuitous (the creator says as much), but gratuitousness is the point. The idea—in fact, the net effect of all the toothbrush mustache tabbies and wild-eyed bunker rants about the score of the Packers game—is to reduce the most terrifying dictator of the 20th century to a state of buffoonery, a small, scowling clown whose capacity for instilling fear, let alone causing any real harm, is merely a distant memory. And I for one couldn’t be happier about it.

But as Sarah Silverman said, “The Holocaust isn’t always funny,” and lest I be accused of the mortal sin of trivializing its horrors, let me be clear: There may be no human, living or dead, who has spent as much time thinking about Hitler as me. I was raised as part of the “Never Forget” Jewish Day School generation, rarely offered a piece of leisure reading by a parent, teacher, or other authority figure that didn’t have to do with little Marta or Franz or Itzik hiding in a crawlspace somewhere. I studied these books with morbid obsessiveness, until I had internalized the terror of their message to the point that I spent most of my “play” time packing and re-packing my Snoopy suitcase with the items I thought I would most need when we had to go into hiding. And as for “never forgetting,” for nearly five years I couldn’t take a shower without experiencing a panic attack. As a teenager, I went on the March of the Living, and even now, as an adult, an entire bookcase in my one-bedroom apartment is devoted to what my husband lovingly calls “her Nazi books.”

And so, when I hear the rising note of panic in the laments that the horrors of the Holocaust are fading from public consciousness—that if the primacy of Jewish suffering is allowed to fade from the public view, our identity as a people is somehow being compromised—I have to wonder why that’s not a good thing. Time heals all wounds because it’s supposed to, even when it leaves a mighty scar, and there’s something a little … shall we say … unwell about insisting these be ritualistically ripped open again and again for the benefit of an increasingly disgruntled captive audience. Why at this moment in our history as a people do we still seem so reactive in allowing it to define us? Anti-Semitism might never go away, but we don’t have to care. Like my mother used to say when I would come home from school complaining about an unfriendly classmate: “So? You don’t need everyone to like you.” (And as long as I’m on the topic: If the existence of the gas chambers is the most compelling reason for the existence of Israel, we’ve got bigger problems than some asshole naming his parakeet Josef Mengele.)

Which is why nothing makes me happier than reducing Hitler to a kitten with an unfortunate mustache. The Holocaust is far too vast and rich a vein of material to eradicate from popular culture entirely—the only television show left on the History Channel would be Pawn Stars, and frankly, there’s only so many times you can watch them fire blanks from a Civil War-era rifle at the unsuspecting mass of Chumley before your soul yearns for something finer, and frankly a little less goyisch—but we can give back the murdered masses their dignity by treating their persecutor-in-chief like a clown. We tend to look back on the people who didn’t take him seriously enough in the old days with a kind of condescending pity, as though their lack of recognition of his menace somehow lends them a kind of terrible complicity in their own destruction, the way we watch the people smoking in the office on Mad Men and think: Don’t they know they’re killing themselves? And yet, the tragedy of the Holocaust isn’t that too many people ignored Hitler, it’s that too many people didn’t. The best we can hope for the world is that one day, when our children and grandchildren learn about the distant memory of the Holocaust, their first response will be: “Adolf Hitler? Isn’t he the one who looks like that fish?”


Like this article? Sign up for our Daily Digest to get Tablet Magazine’s new content in your inbox each morning.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

I have felt this way for a very long time, and your article really helped to validate my feelings. I graduated from JTS in 1998, and I remember every speaker at the Graduation Ceremonies mentioning the Holocaust in some way. I thought, at the time, why must we tinge every major and minor happy Jewish event with a soupcon of Shoah? It’s like when your Mom says “For someone so fat. those pants look great on you”…  The line, ”
the tragedy of the Holocaust isn’t that too many people ignored Hitler, it’s that too many people didn’t” is why we must mock everything, especially the most sacred and taboo things… Only then can we come to truth. As Jews, we have been filled with propaganda that everyone hates us, the Holocaust could happen again–To YOU–TOMORROW if you don’t remember. That minimizes it even more, like when an anti-drug program equates marijuana’s dangers with shooting black tar heroin. While we can never forget what made the Holocaust a unique event in Human history, we also need to move forward as a people.

    Sam Zell was interviewed by Connie Bruck in The New
    Yorker Nov 12, 2007 here is a quote from the

    “I’m an
    immigrant’s kid. I have a very different perspective on the world than somebody
    who grew up in Chicago and led what I would call a
    normal life. I think that being Jewish means that you’re vulnerable forever. Was
    there a stronger Jewish community anywhere in the world—more intellectual, more
    successful—than Germany in the late twenties and
    early thirties, before Hitler? And seven years later they’re building
    concentration camps! So, do I expect something like that to happen in the
    United States? Of course not. Do I think it could?

      ricksonelliot says:

      Owning 103 of 109 German banks, turning Berlin from a cultural capital of Europe into a sewer of vice, organizing the treasonous sailor rebellion during ww1′ coordinating the destruction of the German mark with fellow Jews in ny and London in order to buy up all manurfacturing and commercial industry for pennies on the dollar, coordinating a world wide Jewish boycott of German goods in 1933′ might have irked the German people.

    brynababy says:

    We have continued to move forward and are still doing so and will always do so. But to do what Schukart (sp?) suggests is adolescent at best and dangerous at worst.

There was the line about how the Holocaust happened because the Germans didn’t have a sense of humor–if anyone else had been confronted with people goose-stepping and shouting ‘Heil Hitler’ they would have fallen down laughing. (I doubt the people alive at the time saw it the same way..)

Boychic says:

The holocaust must never ever be put on the back burner of Jewish memory, which is what this article seems to advocate. Hitler was a mass murderer and no amount of satirical nonsense should obliterate that essential characterization. One should tell the true story of the holocaust over and over and over again to every generation without apology or restraint.

    Why obsess over the past over and over and over?  Too much obsession over the holocaust just turns Jews into atheists, pondering why God allowed so many Jews to be killed; how can there really be a God if such a thing can happen?  whine, whine, whine.  Yes, its time to move on.  In order to prevent another holocaust, go learn martial arts, buy a gun, get a concealed handgun license, etc.  but don’t sit there whining all day long and turning yourself into an agnostic like so many Jews seem to be doing.

harold11 says:

Shame on you.

Shame on you.

And goodbye.

Healing is possible.  Read THE WANDERING WHO by Gilad Atzmon for starters.

The power of narratives has been used and abused.  Lessons of history are not learnable when history consists of manipulative narratives.

    Labeling any serious historical narratives “manipulative” is in itself manipulative.  Serious reflection on the Exodus, the Purim story, the Inquisition and any aspects of our cultural  and spiritual history are useful and necessary beyond generations. While time eventually polishes and perhaps refines the narrative, we still explore, debate, twist and turn, and continue to learn from this.  The Holocaust is too recent, too large, and too readily still imaginable for anyone to judge or to presume to limit any aspect of its consideration.

      Wilner wrote: :”The Holocaust is too recent, too large, and too readily still imaginable.” It is also a fable, a very profitable
      fable for the Tribe. Go to the Institute for Historical Review
      and snap out of it… Here are two commonsense refutations
      of it. 1: The Germans needed labor. They are going to kill the
      laborers? If the “Holocaust” is so evident, why keep people from researching it by putting them in prison?…I’m answering a question with a question but I swear that I’m not Jewish.
      Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Some of my heroes are
      Jewish: Gilad Atzmon, Benjamin Freedman and Brother Nathaniel. Zan Overall.  

        Stench of Zion says:

        The “holocaust™” is more ludicrous than the biblical story of Jonah living in a whale’s stomach for several days. Only a sick jewish mind could conjure such preposterous fiction.

          Jacob Arnon says:

          Living Jews bother you, don’t they, asshole?

          Jacob Arnon says:

          Stench of Nazis thinks that the Holocaust is ludicrous. Why?
          Is it because he thinks that white Germans  are incapable of murder? How does he then explain the German Nazi murder of millions of Poles and tens of millions of Slavs?

          And what about slavery in the Americas was this too a “Jewish” fantasy?

          The Nazi bigot is an ignorant coward.  

          Jacob wrote: “The Nazi bigot is an ignorant coward.”

          Jacob loves to insult as do so many Jews that I run into when I am on the street with a placard saying for example: “Israel—not Islam—Did 9/11. They never discuss anything civilly or read what you offer as an argument.For backup on that statement in quotes go to

          Jacob wrote: “And what about slavery in the Americas was this too a “Jewish” fantasy?”
          You walked into that one, Jacob! Don’t you know that Jews owned many if not most of the slave ships? Providence, RI was the center of the slave trade and also the site of the first synagogue in the New World.

          I don’t believe, on Jacob’s say so, that Germans murdered “millions of Poles and tens of millions of Slavs.”  Let me ask Jacob
          to comment on the accepted fact that the Bolsheviks, led by Jews and in great part Jewish, killed tens of millions of Russian and Ukranian Christians. How about that, Jacob?

          Jewish Hollywood makes movie after movie about the alleged German Holocaust but NEVER a movie about the Bolshevik Holocausts. I will be waiting for Jacob’s response.

          Jacob Arnon says:

          Zan Overall, is an old fart obsessed with Jews. 

          How is that for an insult. antisemites and racists in general don’t deserve civil treatment.

          Jacob Arnon says:

          To  Herr Zan Overall, Jews are responsible for all the evils in the world. 

          No matter that the German Nazis murdered upwords of 20 million Russians during World War Two it’s all the fault of the Yidds. 

          What an ignorant asshole this Nazi is. 

        Jacob Arnon says:

        You forgot to mention Judas. 

      Stench of Zion says:

       Like the holocaust™, the “Exodus” and Purim accounts are both completely made up. Jews have an unqualified capacity for falsehood, as Mein Führer once said.

        Jacob Arnon says:

        Stench of the Nazi, go ahead quote your shitty fuhrer. You will both rot in the same grave. 

    tk_in_TO says:

    Who needs enemies when there are the Gilad Atzmons of this world:

    Atzmon refers to charges of antisemitism as being a “common Zionist silencing apparatus.”[96] He denies both that he is an antisemite and the very existence of antisemitism, stating that “‘Anti-Semite’ is an empty signifier, no one actually can be an Anti-Semite and this includes me of course. In short, you are either a racist which I am not or have an ideological disagreement with Zionism, which I have.”[97] In 2009, Atzmon said “I’ve got nothing against the Semite people, I don’t have anything against people — I’m anti-Jewish, not anti-Jews.”[48] He added that “Stupidly we interpreted the Nazi defeat as a vindication of the Jewish ideology and the Jewish people”, however, “in fact Jewish ideology and Nazi ideology were very similar.”[48] In 2009 Atzmon debated David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen on the topic of “Anti-Semitism – Alive and Well in Europe?” at the 2009 Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival.[45][98][99][100]

    Jacob Arnon says:

    Atzmon argues both that antisemitism is a myth and that Jews deserve to be hated. There is always some fool like Kendrick who will believe this nonsense.

    Jacob Arnon says:

    You read that ignorant bigot, Kendrick is someone you would love. 

    ricksonelliot says:

    Truer words have never been spoken, in the future history will show allowing a ethnic minority to control all media is suicidal

getjune says:

The holocost as well as the Inquisition should never be put on the back burner for Jews because each of these events occurred in societies where the Jews had become assimilated into that society as professionals,  professors,  artists and just plain citizens. 

 Anti-semitism seems to crop up when people are “too ” comfortable  with the Jews.  This does not mean that we should make it the centerpiece of our peoplehood but that we should remember these tragedies as to what can happen, just like we remember the Jews decent into slavery after the era when Joseph had been advisor to Pharoh and the Jews arrived to a welcome in Egyptland.

Hitler (y’mach sh’mo) is the 20th Century Haman/Amalek (y’mach sh’mo). Every Purim we mock Haman, turning him into a cartoon character, while at the same time realizing the dead seriousness of his almost succeeding in destroying the Jewish community. That we can now laugh in the face of the man – while still understanding the extreme evil he represent (and still represents in many parts of the world) – speaks volumes about the Jewish willingness and ability to survive.

brynababy says:

I cannot believe the ridiculous arguement this writer makes.  Of course there is more to Israel’s founding than the gas chambers and of course,the Holocaust is far from the only thing that defines us and of course, we Jews have moved far, far forward- but to suggest that we should “ignore Hitler” and make silly, pointless jokes about him, is repulsive!

Jacob Arnon says:

Used to be said that the Holocaust happened because antisemites are sexually repressed. 
Now it’s said that it happened because they have no sense of humor.  What nonsense. 

Pogromists and Nazis had and have a sense of humor. They find killing Jews very funny and laugh about it afterward.

    payne100 says:

     I’m not sure whether Jews find it funny killing Americans but they do it nevertheless.

    They did it when they attacked the USS Liberty and they did it on 9/11.

    Do Jews laugh as the conduct their genocide against Palestinians?

      Jacob Arnon says:

      That Payne is both a Jew hater and an ignorant ass. 

        payne100 says:

         This chart reveals the Jewish population has grown much faster than the Arab population.
        The Arab population has increased by 7 times since 1914 to a total of 5,139,100 in 2005.
        During that same period the Jewish population has increased 88 times to a total of 5,275,200.
        If the Arab population was allowed to grow at the same rate as the Jewish population there would be over 64 million Arabs in Israel/Palestine by 2005.

        Did Jews laugh when they blew up the King David Hotel killing 91?
        Did Jews laugh after they assassinated Count Folke Bernadotte who had negotiated the release of 31,000 Jews from prison camps during WWII?

          Jacob Arnon says:

          Bullshit Payne you Jew hater:

          There were over 11 million Jews in Europe in 1039 and by war ends there were less than 5 million left alive. This is what genocide is all about.

          As for killing innocents in war time the US and every other country has killed tens of thousands by mistake it happens all the time, bigot. 

          The casualties on the US Liberty pale by comparison to the casualties in Japan, in Iraq and elsewhere the US has been at war. 

          You are too much of a Jew hater to be able to think straight, Payne. 

          payne100 says:


          You can’t refute the facts I present so you attack my character instead.

          If Jews were victims of genocide, why take it out on the Palestinians?  They were not to blame.

          The attack on the USS Liberty was not a mistake. I have read three books written by men who were on board the ship during the attacks. They all agree that the attack was premeditated and the plan was to sink the ship and kill all aboard.

          The five Mossad agents arrested after filming and celebrating the Twin Towers being blown up on 9/11 is another example of Israel being involved in deaths of Americans. These men were happy to see thousands die in an event they most likely played a part.

          Zionist Larry Silverstein who had only recently taken over the lease on the World Trade Center received over $4 billion in insurance payments on an investment of $120 million. Silverstein, who had breakfast in one of the Towers regularly, did not show up for work that day.
          neither did his son and daughter who also office in the Towers.

          I’m not a Jew hater but I do have a problem with some Zionists.

          Jacob Arnon says:

          Payne you are full of conspiracy theories and don’t have anything to back them up except more conspiracy theories peddled by  people who are of your mindset. 

          payne100 says:

           No, Jacob.

          I don’t think all Jews are evil.

          But I have an extreme problem with Zionists such as yourself who continuously lie to cover up Zionist crimes.

          Zionists have created their own problem in choosing the location for Israel. Because of their primitive religious beliefs they chose to live surrounded by millions of Arabs. When Israel was mandated, instead of making peace with the Arabs, Zionist terrorists started slaughtering them.

          In order to get modern weaponry to aid in the murder of Arabs, Zionists have created massive lobbying power in the U.S. which plays a large part in who gets elected to political office.

          Zionists now control all major news corporations in the U.S. which enables them to spread their warmongering Zionist propaganda.

          Jews must hate the internet because it enables users to reveal the truth about Israel. The people of America are waking up. We don’t want our military fighting wars for a country led by murderers and thieves. We don’t want billions of dollars of our tax money buying weapons for those murderers either.

          The good Jews of the world should see that it is in their best interest to join us in the fight to stop the madness that Israel and the Zionists have created.

          Jacob Arnon says:


          This from someone who accuses Jews of perpetrating the4 911 attack on the Twon Towers. 

          Payne is am antisemitic  liar.  

          Jacob Arnon says:

          btw: I love the internet it allows Jews to experience first hand the vileness of antisemites like Payne.

          payne100 says:

          If you want to use real words, call me anti-Zionist.

          Jacob Arnon says:

          AntiZionism is the antisemitism of liars and cowards. 

          payne100 says:

           Anti-semite is a word made up by Zionists as a protection device.

          This video features Shulamit Aloni, former Israeli minister, admitting that the holocaust and the term anti-semitic are Israeli tricks used to justify their treatment of Palestinians.

          Jacob Arnon says:

          “I am not an antisemite Payne says:

          “Zionist Larry Silverstein who had only recently taken over the lease on the World Trade Center received over $4 billion in insurance payments on an investment of $120 million. Silverstein, who had breakfast in one of the Towers regularly, did not show up for work that day.
          neither did his son and daughter who also office in the Towers.”

          What’s a Zionist for Payne?

          Any Jew Payne decides is a Zionist.

           When a Payne says Zionist he means Jew.

          payne100 says:

           Jacob, surely you know the difference between Jews and Zionists.

          Its the same as the difference between Germans and Nazis–the former is a people and the latter is a political movement.

          Larry Silverstein is a Zionist and had personal friendships with Arial Sharon, Netanyahu and Ehud Barack. This Haaretz article backs that up:

          Jacob Arnon says:

          “You can’t refute the facts I present so you attack my character instead.”

          You have no facts. Nothing you presented can be considered a fact that back up an argument. 
          “If Jews were victims of genocide,”

          Not “if” they were murdered by Nazis European and Middle Easterners. 


           “why take it out on the Palestinians?  They were not to blame.”

          The mufti of Jerusalem who spent the war years in Berlin was the head of the Arabs in mandate Palestine. He lobbied Hitler to kill more Jews.  

          The Arabs who lived in mandate Palestine (there was no Palestinian people till about 1964 when the Arabs of mandate Palestine decided to call themselves that. 

          “The attack on the USS Liberty was not a mistake. I have read three books written by men who were on board the ship during the attacks.”

          I am sure you have. And there are books proving that there was no “holocaust” and that “slavery never existed in the US.” So what?

          “They all agree that the attack was premeditated and the plan was to sink the ship and kill all aboard.”

          If the Israelis wanted to sink the ship they would have done it. Even a Jew hater like you would know that they are not stupid. 

          Of course there was no reason for them to attack an American ship.

          Like I said mistakes of “friendly fire” i war time happens all the time. Of course Jews can never make mistakes. Its all “deliberate” with them. That’s because you think we are all evil Payne.  You have the mindset of an antisemite and a nazi. 

          ricksonelliot says:

          Jewish history is nothing more than self serving myths of persecution while hiding the destruction Jews have wrought on innocent European countries and America. Hey thanks for holding our politicians hostage to AIPAC and the 5 million Jewish donors, that alone is enough to be charged with treason

Abraham_Foxman says:

Rachel Shukert is on to something when she criticizes those who build their Jewish identity on the Holocaust or who obsess about it.

Where she goes wrong, very wrong, is in her eagerness to see the Holocaust fade from public consciousness. She is in a position to offer such an opinion, as misguided as it is, exactly because she grew up learning and thinking about the Shoah. If she had her way, the next generation would not know of this historic tragedy and wouldn’t even be in a position to think about whether we do too much or too little on the subject.

In other words, her perspective would trivialize and diminish the Holocaust, both in terms of showing respect for the millions who perished and as a motivator for the concept of “Never Again,”  preventing anti-Semitism and genocide against any and all people.

— The Anti-Defamation League

    StateYourName says:


    My take on Rachel’s posting (and you should read her erudite defense of Philip Roth here on Tablet and both her published memoirs next time you’re at the pool, provided that you’re O.K. with your companions continually asking you “What’s so funny?”) is that we should strive to minimize the impact of the Holocaust on our day-to-day behavior (fearing showers, packing the “go” bag because the Waffen is at the door) but NOT minimize the historical memory.  As I read it, her rhetorical flourish at the end of the piece, concerning the Hitleresque fish, is not meant to be the end of the hypothetical conversation, but the beginning.  She does not suggest that we forget or that we fail to teach the full horror of the Holocaust.   She proposes that (as Cantor Kessler suggests), we complete the transition of Hitler into Haman II.   Do you think that is a bad idea, or just one whose time has not yet come?   How do you reconcile your response with that of Cantor Kessler, below?


    Someone who met you years ago

      Haman failed.

        Oudtshoorn says:

        Indeed Haman did fail, whereas Hitler continues being remarkably successful.   Every time a Jew is attacked in Europe or Australia, he probably salutes with joy in his grave – wherever it is.

      Oudtshoorn says:

      We cannot yet have a transition of Hitler into Haman II.   Remember the Arab and North African collaboration with the Nazis, to the extent that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and one of his pals spent the entire war in Berlin, broadcasting 24/7 on “Berlin in Arabic” radio from 1939 to 1945?   [USA Intelligence retains translations of all those broadcasts.]   Well, for them the War has not yet ended.   The daily cry then was “Kill the Jews”, and they harboured one of Hitler’s Einstazgruppen in either Libya or Egypt, waiting for Rommel’s victory so that they could murder all Jews behind the lines.   Their cry today is exactly the same:   “Kill the Jews.”   They are an extension of Hitler.   He is a long, long way from being relegated to mere history.   Pay a quiet visit to Madam Tussaud’s in London, and watch Arabs queuing up to have their photos taken with “Hitler.”   Not merely scary, but horrifying.

    For me, it’s not about trivializing or diminishing the Holocaust per se. I just don’t want Hitler, the Nazis and anti-Semitism to be the largest aspect of my Jewish identity. I don’t know any Jewish kids who are unfamiliar with at least the main gist of the Holocaust, but I know so many that don’t know what an Etrog is, or how to recite the blessing for Netilat Yadayim or Hamotsi, or who Rabbi Akiva, Rambam, Spinoza and Buber were. I don’t live as a Jew in order to spite the anti-Semites. I live as a Jew because I am the proud recipient of a precious legacy that consciously and concretely manifests itself  in nearly every aspect of my life. Of course we should never forget the Holocaust, of course we should fight anti-Semitism – but making these the main ways that Judaism manifests itself in our lives, diminishes Judaism. In that respect I would definitely like to diminish the Holocaust. That’s why I draw stupid pictures of Hitler on DrawSomething and I think that’s ok.
    David Abitbol

      sowhatelseisnew says:

      weird, as the only reason i feel jewish is because my family was wiped out by the holocaust.  in fact, i know almost squat about jewish customs/traditions, etc.  enough that my family was decimated for being jewish.  maybe this is a good reason to throw in the towel, like imre kertesz – is it really worth singling or labelling ourselves as anything if: (a) we’re all humans, regardless of religion/race, etc., and (b) it only brings endless suffering to label ourselves as “jews” (or blacks, or any other group that has experienced suffering).  in the end, mr. abitbol, i just don’t believe you would say that someone who doesn’t care squat about jewish ritual or even jewish ethics, but whose family directly suffered from the holocaust, is not “jewish.”  and if that’s the case, then what does it matter how one defines a jew or what is the central point of one’s identifying as a “jew.”  

      said differently, if the only reason i feel jewish is because my dad only spoke yiddish, and had a tattoo on his arm, then: (a) am i still jewish? and (b) does it really matter?   or, not to beat a dead horse further, but doesn’t that make sense that i would identify myself more with other “second generation” persons, whether they’re cambodian, rwandan, biafran, etc., etc., than with american jews (or jews in general)?  back to the point of my other postings – the holocaust was not a jewish event, per se, but a personal event, and as such, anyone whose family suffered similarly (jewish or not) is closer to me than someone whose family didn’t.

      it sounds cold what i’m saying, but in the end, if human nature is such that it seeks community, isn’t it natural that i/others would seek their like kind?

       I never said you weren’t Jewish sowhatelseisnew! My point is that if the main or sole focus of your Judaism is victimhood, then you’re missing out on some really good stuff. Judaism as victimhood may be a compelling enough reason for you to identify as a Jew, but it’s a horrible way to maintain continuity. It’s just not very interesting. That having been said, having a strong Jewish identity based on a wider conception of Judaism ought not preclude anyone Jewish from feeling empathy toward other victims of injustice. Not at all.

ilona fried says:

 Similar to the author, I want the Holocaust to fade from *my*
consciousness…as the daughter of a survivor, I spent far too many
years “Never Forgetting” in ways that thwarted and distorted my
experience of life.   There are some people, bless them, who seem
temperamentally suited for the roles of memorializing and raising or
maintaining awareness about the Holocaust.   If they can live happy
lives at the same time, bless them again.   I’m not sure it’s desirable for everyone to have this role. 

I think the point is that humans do not learn from history. Cases in point, Guatemala, Mexico, and let’s not forget our friends, the gays. We can not forget so that we do not become insensitive. We can not forget lest we meld so much into society that we think we are untouchable. 

We can choose as we like and agree that coming out of the ashes of hiding is around the corner.  One thing to agree is that we shall not stress, not a mfing thing.  That’s me.  I’m here and I hear his sentiments.  Rachel, I am with you that hatred/love are intertwined:  hate is contingent on your loves.  “Reduce your hatred and raise higher your loved ones,” good article Rachel Shukert.

I’m with Penny on this one. They do say living well is the best revenge and this is a case where we are literally having the last laugh, as we do with Purim.

    Jacob Arnon says:

    The attitude expressed here is very provincial.

    It’s too soon to say if we are having the last laugh. With the rise of the Ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad as well as the spread of Jew hatred on the left, I am in no mood of laughing yet. People who are laughing don’t know much about the world outside the US.

LJGlassman says:

In the mid-70s I invited my parents to see Lubitsch’s “To Be or Not to Be”.  I was surprised that they had never seen it before.  They told me that when it was first released, in 1942, Hitler was no laughing matter.  I realized that I would feel the same way if, at that time, someone had made a comedy about Pinochet.  Maybe we have to see such horrors from a distance in time in order to be able to mock their perpetrators…

sowhatelseisnew says:

Obviously written by a real ‘American’ Jew whose immediate family never went through the Holocaust.  Hey, here’s one better for you – there’s no such thing as a “Jewish people” at all – as is obvious from this column:  there’s just “people” period who either had family go through it or those who didn’t.  I would imagine most of the former would find the column inane and blase at best.   Can’t speak for those from the “other” group – those hip, breezy  and cool American Jews like the author, who have as much to do with the Holocaust as John Doe from Kansas, but because they’re Jewish, think they can speak intelligently about it.  Hey, why not tell a rape victim to get over it and start cracking jokes about the perp while we’re at it too?  Any difference? 

…Once again proving that group identification in general (such as being Jewish) based on other than common experience is a joke.  Now that’s a joke I can understand.

SeizetheLight says:

This is what “Forgetting Gets U:

Nazi war criminal Faber dies at 90 in Germany


05/26/2012 22:54

Former SS member lived as free man for decades after escaping from Dutch prison while awaiting execution for murder of 22.

Nazi war criminal Klass Faber, who escaped to Germany in 1952 after being sentenced to death in the Netherlands for his role in the murder of 22 people, has died at the age of 90 in Ingolstadt in Bavaria, AFP quoted a hospital source as saying on Saturday.

Faber had been living in Inglostadt for decades, according to the source, and he had evaded numerous Dutch attempts to have him extradited to serve his sentence, which had been commuted to life in prison.


German gov’t sought to bribe judge during Eichmann trial
‘German BND helped wanted Nazi Brunner evade justice’

Klass Faber was a former member of the Nazi SS Silver Fir unit. He was sentenced to death in the Netherlands in 1947, escaping to Germany while awaiting execution. Faber was number two on the Simon Wiesenthal’s most wanted Nazi war criminals list.

A German court dismissed the charges against Faber in 1957, citing a lack of evidence. Bavarian authorities resisted all efforts by Dutch authorities to have Faber rearrested and extradited.

Faber was a Dutch national, but was given German citizenship automatically as a member of the SS.

He worked at the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands. His unit killed “anti-German” Dutch citizens during the German occupation of the Netherlands.

MishkaDenk says:

Really sad to see that people can’t live with both sadness and happiness in their lives. Jews have always understood that life is both sweet and sour at the same time. The author had legitimate concerns for her own safety as a child when reading about the holocaust. As an adult, she needs to wake up to the rising tide of Fascism all over the world and spend more time being concerned about the fate of others. That does’t mean I don’t find things to laugh at or about, but I will always remember that because of Hitler I never had a grandmother and that makes me sad sometimes. The Jews chose life after the Shoah, however escapism was’t an answer then and isn’t one NOW. The great Jewish thinker and French philosopher, Emmanual Levinas, described Judaism as a religion for adults. Rachel Shukert could well take his advice and grow up!

corey949 says:

“And yet, the tragedy of the Holocaust isn’t that too many people ignored Hitler, it’s that too many people didn’t.”

As she often has before, Ms Shukert again opens a window where it seemed there was only a wall.

For me the question is not what a humorous take on Hitler means in relation to Nazis and anti-Semites or to the chances for it happening again or not. But, rather, what it means in relation to healing a form of PTSD that I know I carry, though I wasn’t born until 1945. But, as Rachel points out, even middle-class American Jews e can grow up scarred by the Holocaust even middle-class American Jews

    sowhatelseisnew says:

    corey, every human being can be scarred by it, not just american jews.  but no american jew whose immediate family is intact can even come close to understanding how personal (yes, personal) the holocaust really was/is.  it is growing up with that absurdity – no grandparents, no photos of them, no idea of what your parents went through, that no american jew from an intact family (for want of a better expression) can feel. it’s only once people understand the very personal nature of the holocaust, that they begin to grasp what this disaster was really all about – the jewish people weren’t murdered; individuals were murdered (mostly, but not only, jews)….

    it’s all well and good to grow up imagining that “they’re” out to get you while growing up in america (philip roth wrote a novel about this), but this has long been, for adults at least, idle fantasy and self-indulgence, and i think an awful  thing to transmit (as the author notes) to their kids. because i agree on this point, this in no way excuses – in my view – the author’s smugness.  she obviously writes from an american jewish (again, i can’t think of a better term) perspective, and just doesn’t “get” it.i’m not saying one group “owns” the holocaust, but it really is easy to play the victim from the comfort of being from a family that was either smart or lucky enough not to have actually experienced it (by leaving dodge prior to 1939, or 1933, as the case may be).  but – and this is the important point –  it is this very borrowed/appropriated victimhood that, actually, to use abe foxman’s terminology, “trivializes” and “diminishes” the  holocaust, making this an event we “all” can share.  hey, it isn’t – at least not that way.  and even the other way, it’s not a “jewish” disaster (here i part ways with mr. foxman), but a “human” disaster.  

    Jacob Arnon says:

    “But, as Rachel points out, even middle-class American Jews e can grow up scarred by the Holocaust even middle-class American Jews”

    Excuse me, but this is nonsense:

    Middle class American Jews in the 40’s during the Holocaust did nothing to counter the silence of the government and the press. 

    They were not affected by the Holocaust directly but claimed belated victimhood.

    Now their children are trying to weaken the Jewish State were the children of Holocaust survivors live. 

    All this in the name of “democracy” and “liberalism.” This is why they are on the side of illiberal and  undemocratic Hamas and against Israel in the name of what?

    To my mind it’s the same move of doing nothing and then standing on the side of those who victimize the European and Mizrachi Jews.

    American Jews love only themselves. 

jcarpenter says:

Hitler:  may his name and memory be defaced—-

Jacob Arnon says:

Anti-Zionism is the antisemitism of liars and cowards. 

Rachel, This is a great article!  Clearly you have hit a nerve as Abe Foxman commented here.  The image of you packing and unpacking your snoopy suitcase made me laugh out loud.  

Oudtshoorn says:

When I see no more signs like “SIX MILLION MORE PLEASE” and “JEWS TO THE GAS” and “KILL THE JEWS” and “DEATH TO ISRAEL”, then I will begin to smile.   Until then, not for a moment will I forget how our “friends” turned on us (and still do), how the Poles continued murdering us for years after the war (and still have an anti-Jewish radio station & do not include Sobibor in their list of atrocity sites), and how people I meet on a daily basis mock Jews and the “supposed” Holocaust.   Not to mention elections in Eastern Europe which (with scarcely any Jews remaining in those countries) are run and won on an anti-Semitic platform.   Jews, as a people, are just as vulnerable as we have always been.   THEIR hatred of US will never disappear, and will be acted on whenever and wherever an opportunity is seen.

It seems that Rachel Shukert has a screw loose.   If not, then shame on you, Rachel.

    payne100 says:

     It would be a simple matter for Jews to bring an end to world animosity toward Jews.

    1.  Stop killing and robbing Palestinians.

    2. Give up control of the world banking system.

    3. Disband AIPAC and all the other Jewish lobbying groups in the U.S. which have turned our Congress into an extension of the Knesset.

    4. Learn how to work and earn an honest living instead of being parasites.

      brynababy says:

      What a ridiculous, stupid bunch of lies by a jealous, uneducated racist!

        payne100 says:

        5. Stop taking $3 billion a year in handouts from the U.S. The U.S. is $14 trillion in debt and the debt is rising rapidly because of the wars we conduct for Israel’s benefit..

        payne100 says:

        6. Stop lying about the Holocaust. There were no gas chambers for people–only gas chambers to delouse clothes. People died at the camps but it was from disease and starvation. The total who died was nowhere near 6 million.

        payne100 says:

        5. Stop using Jewish major news media ownership to brainwash Americans. The 6 major news corporations are now Jewish owned and controlled. You lied us into the Iraq war. You are now attempting to get us into war with Iran. You have covered up the truth about 9/11 for over 10 years.

    ricksonelliot says:

    Does setting up Jewish lobbies to pressure and subvert western countries for the benefit of Israel show Jewish loyalty or the opposite? Pushing America into war with Iran is a instance of Jewish kindness?

Admiral_Shackleford says:

I disagree. Since I’ve moved away from the east coast into more Heartland-ish territory, I notice a disturbing ignorance towards Hitler. Just weeks ago my wife’s coworker tried to argue with her that Hitler wasn’t “that bad” because after all, he DID save the German economy. The coworker in question was repeating the argument almost word for word from the lecture given by her economics professor that morning.  The fact that such an economy was based on slave labor and torture did not seem to bother nor occur to her. 

The belief system of hitler is alive and well.  It lives in todays modern liberal, the Idea of eliminating undesirables in our souciety through abortion, sex selection and utopian ideas of hitler live in liberal ideology.  Many jews blindly support those who push thease ideas. ( obama ) They have allowed themsesves to be blind to the truth, and I am sorry to say another false messiah figure is on the horizon. See revelation chapter 13. Ezekiel told of the time when god would bring his people back  into their land chapter 38-39 in the end times that happened in 1948 Many countrys of the world hate us, why – we have created a class of people who are dependent on the same evil people. Through handouts, we denyed the biblical imperitave of” The one who doesn’t work, shouldnt eat.” The jews are blind and cant see the truth. see Daniel 9:27  and  neh chapter 1-2 they think that rebuilding the temple will bring their messiah, wrong.  he wont come till they recognise who he is, Jesus

Perhaps we should forget Haman as well? Or the other tyrants that have bedevilled us through the millennia? Or perhaps we should continue the sublime perspective of a people that holds history and civilizations up to a template of morality that is both eternal and eternally true?  I vote for the latter. The author on the other hand has better things to do than feel the moral obligation to memorialize her own dead.

leahhb says:

I do not agree with Rachel. I had no grandparents as they all perished in the Shoah as did 16 first cousins of my mother’s and countless cousins of my father’s. Large gaps remain in our family tree as well as in memory. It is shameful (and immature) to think that humor that can be squeezed out of this, or that cartoon-like characters can be created to minimize the impact, and transform it. In my view,  the legacy has to be maintained in its stark reality, to be repeated and recalled. People who were not affected forget too easily. And even those who were affected, can turn on their own people as though by divorcing themselves from it, it will go away.  Today, the world hinges on extremism with the Jews hauled out again as scapegoats.  ‘The past is not past if it is still present’. So, Rachel, you are misguided and in a defensive denial position, which can happen. But you will grow out of it.

herbcaen says:

This column is valuable in that it punctures the stereotype of Jews being smart. Clearly, this is not the case

    BostonPatriot1 says:

     You got that right. What a moronic stance.

    Go away, R. Shukert.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

‘Ignore Hitler,’ Indeed

Internet parodies of the Fuhrer, including a new blog, weaken our memory of the Holocaust—and that’s good

More on Tablet:

From the Mekong to Maryland

By Hillel Kuttler — After the fall of Saigon, a Baltimore synagogue helped 15 Vietnamese become Americans