Sunday, October 09, 2005


Last night we saw Downfall, which portrays Hitler's last few days before the end of WW2.

As the director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, explained "The fascinating thing is that [Hitler and the Nazis] were human, not monsters with claws and fangs." Indeed Bruno Ganz (one of my favorite actors - see Wings of Desire), was excellent in portraying the dictator. The danger in a role such as this, as he puts it, is to portray Hitler as a caricature.

Why is it dangerous to portray Hitler as not being human? Because the ideology that precipitated WW2, and the horrors of WW2 was caused by humans. By calling Hitler a monster and separate from humanity, we implicitly say, we would never cause that because we're no monster. We run the danger of not learning how Germany fell under the spell of a dangerous and crazy ideology, because we're no monster. So when Politicians are compared to Hitler, this is not simply an insult ... we should take pause that such comparisons are worthwhile and instructive. Or are we trapped in the ideology that we could never cause such atrocities ... I only wish that this were true.