Rebooting The Führer

Adolf Hitler Brought Back To Life in German Hit Novel

kurt hoffman

By Gavriel Rosenfeld

Published February 19, 2013, issue of February 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Although he has been dead for nearly 70 years, Adolf Hitler continues to make headlines. In recent years, the Nazi dictator has become an inescapable presence in Western political and cultural life, serving as a polemical trump card in political debates, a demonic star in feature films, a marketable symbol in advertising campaigns and an iconic figure on Internet websites.

Every time Hitler makes an appearance in the news, commentators rush to interpret its significance. In the same way that Kremlinologists during the Cold War sought to determine how the latest Politburo statement reflected shifting Soviet policies, today, scholars of memory seek to determine what the latest Hitler headlines reveal about contemporary views of the Nazi past.

The latest example of this phenomenon is currently taking place in Germany, where a new novel featuring Hitler has recently shot up the best-seller lists and has prompted reflections about the reasons for its success. Written by German journalist Timur Vermes, Er Ist Wieder Da” (“He’s Back”), features an unusual counterfactual premise: What if Adolf Hitler suddenly came back to life in present-day Germany?

In pursuing this fanciful premise, “Er Ist Wieder Da” adopts a satirical approach that accounts for much of the novel’s popularity. Indeed, its best-seller status testifies to the yearning of many Germans to adopt a more normalized perspective toward the Nazi era.

Er Ist Wieder Da” is narrated in the first person by Hitler himself in a longwinded, histrionic style familiar to readers of “Mein Kampf.” As the novel opens, the ex-dictator describes waking up in an empty lot in the middle of Berlin, unclear as to why he is still alive. Like a Japanese soldier emerging out of decades of self-imposed jungle isolation, Hitler spends many of the early chapters trying to make sense of his new surroundings.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.