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Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler's Germany

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  132 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In Nazi Germany, telling jokes about Hitler could get you killed.

Is it permissible to laugh at Hitler? This is a question that is often debated in Germany today, where, in light of the dimension of the horrors committed in the name of its citizens, many people have difficulty taking a satiric look at the Third Reich. And whenever some do, accusations arise that they are d
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Melville House (first published 2006)
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Elijah Kinch Spector
Naturally, one doesn't expect a lot of laughs from this book, humor aside. It's an incredibly, unflinchingly stark look at Nazi Germany and the people therein. Herzog's painful thesis is that, essentially, German political humor from the 30s and 40s at the expense of Hitler and the Nazis does not constitute rebellion, risk, or transgressive ideas, but does show that the German people of that era simply can't say "we didn't know what was going on" or the "we were all in a trance from how charisma ...more
Meaghan
I wasn't sure what to expect out of this book, but I was impressed by it. The thesis is that you can prove just by the jokes floating around Nazi Germany that the German people knew perfectly well what that terrible things were going on. Maybe they didn't know exactly what was happening, but they had a pretty good idea. There are also mini-biographies of German comedians (which sounds like an oxymoron, I know) and filmmakers, and how they were affected by the Third Reich and censorship. I learne ...more
Richard
I decided to check this book out after reading Herzog's A Short History of Nuclear Folly and finding it enjoyable. I also have an interest in World War II history and enjoy learning about some of the behind the scenes sort of things occasionally as opposed to just troop movements and big battles.

As a whole, Dead Funny was okay. While I enjoyed the information I was reading and learning about the book itself seemed haphazardly put together and chapters felt only loosely related to each other at t
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fleegan
This very short book covered more ground than I thought it would. The author starts in 1933 and ends with Mel Brooks’ The Producers and Roberto Benigni’s Life if Beautiful. The book itself reads like an interesting textbook. I’m not going to blame this on the fact that the book is translated because that is not the problem. The problem is the subject matter, and I’m not talking about the history of the Third Reich either. I’m talking about jokes.

Political humor, at it’s very best, is only funny
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Di
A very interesting book, translated from the German.The author analyses jokes told about the Nazis while they were on the rise in Germany in the 1920s and 30s, then during the time they were in power, and also after they were finally defeated.

The types of jokes told can say a lot about peoples' reactions to the Nazis, just as the way the Nazis reacted to jokes tell us a lot about their sensitivities to criticism; basically they didn't like being criticised at all and it took a lot of courage to
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Darren Gore
Many Germans laughed and joked about Hitler and the Nazis before and after their rise and fall, for the same reasons that people throughout history have done - to criticise or support the powers-that-be; to let off steam; and (especially as life under the Nazis got worse and worse) to help get themselves through dark days.

Dead Funny is a gripping, moving and thought-provoking history of laughs about the Nazis. In a highly-readable style, Herzog details the history of the humour up to the controv
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Leo
A short read, but nevertheless an interesting and illuminating look at an infamous period of history through the lens of political jokes.
Joe Faust
Fascinating account of humor, dark and otherwise, and its part in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler.
Emily
Jul 07, 2011 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily by: My mother
Shelves: 2011
I wasn't able to get a German-language ebook of this brief work on humor during the Third Reich, but even in English, I could perceive the author's German viewpoint. He emphatically distances himself the books of "whispered jokes" that were published immediately after the war as pseudo-evidence of German innocence. Instead, he asserts that joking around can't be considered serious political speech or an actual form of resistance. (I think Jon Stewart's been making this point for a few years now. ...more
Chelsea
Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler's Germany purports to be about the history of jokes about Hitler, the Third Reich, and the Holocaust within the bounds of Germany before and during WWII. And indeed, it does start off this way, expounding on the history of political jokes and how they're used to relieve stress, and were actually good for Hitler's government. However, after that, it rapidly falls apart into a disorganized jumble that can't even decide which continent it wants to focus on. While subject ...more
g026r
A while back I read a book by Ben Lewis titled Hammer & Tickle , subtitled either "A History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes" or "A Cultural History of Communism" depending on edition, which was a disappointment — a magazine article stretched out to book length. Now, the good news is that Herzog's work (original German title: Heil Hitler, das Schwein ist tot!) is a better book than Lewis's. The bad news is that that's damning with faint praise, as it's still not that great of a boo ...more
Christine Frank
I would actually rate this a 3.8 -- reads like a thesis (not necessarily a bad thing) and covers a lot of ground, starting earlier than we might have thought, then skipping the postwar period until briefly describing approximately one movie each (and no jokes) in the 60s, 90s, and 00s.

Penalties for speaking (much less laughing) were severe and well known, leading one to believe that there was no one who didn't know what was going on. The author nicely dispenses with that excuse, while obliquely
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Margaret Sankey
From the son of filmmkaer Werner Herzog, a companion volume to the documentary made for the BBC on humor in Hitler's Germany. I've been interested in jokes as source material since reading a study of subversive jokes in Soviet Russia and this delivers a nuanced view--while this could be a defiant means of subverting the Nazi state (and a crime for which troublesome people were executed if their jokes touched on too sensitive subjects or were part of overall belligerence) or using grim humor to s ...more
Jennifer Kunz
This was a fascinating book, I read it in only two sittings. I've never even thought of humor in relation to the tragedy of World War II, so it was a subject new to me. Herzog deals with it succinctly and tastefully, and very knowledgeably! The translator, Jefferson Chase, did a great job as well - I couldn't tell it wasn't originally in English. Interestingly, I just a month ago read a book about translation - 'Is That a Fish In Your Ear?:Translation And The Meaning Of Everything' by David Bell ...more
Moloch
Il libro è abbastanza mediocre, niente di speciale. Ma il voto è così basso a causa della PESSIMA traduzione italiana: si parla di battute, barzellette, canzoni, giochi di parole IN LINGUA TEDESCA... La traduttrice, invece di riportare il testo in lingua originale e parafrasarlo, magari in nota, come sarebbe logico, in modo che si possano apprezzare, sia pure a un livello minimo, riscrive tutto di sana pianta IN ITALIANO, si inventa rime e significati di acronimi, fa ridicoli adattamenti a canzo ...more
The Book : An Online Review at The New Republic
PERHAPS IN RESPONSE to the events of September 11, and the subsequent decade of terror attacks and the media spectacles made out of them, we seem desperate now to laugh. Mainstream comedy films often demolish box office records while movies that delve into the more tenebrous realities of existence disappear quickly. Laughter is the more lucrative business. Read more...
Sarah
An interesting layer of history to add to the day-to-day life of Germany leading up to and during WWII. Sometimes the everyday functioning of life gets lost in the horrors and battlefield history. The humor that was maintained as well as the history of what happened both to the comedians, joke tellers is interesting. The combination of humor both as a way to survive, ignore, or ridicule what was happening in Germany is also fascinating.
Catalina
Enjoyable almost as a fiction book. An abundance of information about jokes, satire, entertainment industry under Hitler and National Socialist Party. Everything comes to confirm, once more, Germans were aware, complacent or even supportive of Hitler and his men, his polity and actions. The antisemitism is a deep rooted feeling and more present than ever, especially in the "old, good" Europe, so not at all something exclusive to Hitler's time!
Blossom
Informative. It was different than what I expected (examples of humor during this time). It went into the mindset of the individuals that portrayed different types of humor under Hitler's rule. Also, the book described the outcome of some people who made jokes about political figures. It isn't a nice, sweet book but Hitler wasn't 'nice' either. This book doesn't sugar-coat how people felt and the effects of their speaking out through humor.
Ollie
For a culture that is often criticized as humorloess, Herzog debuncs this stereotype with a brief summary of not just the developments in Germany during WWII, but also the jokes that were told during that period and how people got away with them (and often didn't). All that can be said is that the idea of humor as the best medicine holds upeven under the most difficult circumstances.
Carrie Griffin
Interesting subject carries the book. The writing's a little dry--it's not a slog or anything, but it's not something I'd ever describe as a book I "couldn't put down." This is possibly due to it being an English translation, though.
Karen
Just finished this one. Really interesting topic, new way to explore a topic about which I've already read quite a bit. Liked it, though it was quite the fast spin through virtually all of the Nazi time period.
Christina G
Intriguing topic, though I would have liked to seen more of the jokes in the original German and a little more reflection on humor and its relation to resistance or lack thereof.
Andrew Hull
Really interesting subject. There are a few typos but I think they can mostly be attributed to translation. The humour gets more black as the book progresses, of course.
Sarah
Some insights, but the poor writing (and possibly clunky translation) interfered with my enjoyment. A German speaker reading this in the original might have better luck.
Sinistmer
Good and interesting way of exploring popular perception of Nazis, as well as giving some insight into the Nazi regime itself. Worth a look if you're interested in WWII.
George
I was intrigued by this book and at first found the authors' premise and insights compelling. But it did not sustain my interest
Edward Sullivan
Herzog, a German author, offers a brief, interesting and insightful look at political humor in the Third Reich.
Avis Black
Sep 13, 2013 Avis Black added it
Shelves: dnf
I wanted more jokes and less analysis.
Mandi
Mandi marked it as to-read
Nov 18, 2014
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A Short History of Nuclear Folly Heil Hitler, das Schwein ist tot! Der verstrahlte Westernheld Heil Hitler, el cerdo está muerto Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany

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