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!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • 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.