Adolf Hitler in Popular Culture - Representations of Hitler During His Lifetime

Representations of Hitler During His Lifetime

Numerous works in popular music and literature feature Adolf Hitler prominently.

Inside Germany, Hitler was usually depicted as a god-like figure, loved and respected by the German people, as, for example, in Triumph of the Will, which Hitler co-produced. An exception was the German movie Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse), (1933), which was banned by the Nazi propaganda ministry. Many critics consider Fritz Lang's depiction of a homicidal maniac masterminding a criminal empire from within the walls of a criminal asylum to be an allegory of the Nazi ascent to power in Germany. Another early example of a cryptic depiction is in Bertolt Brecht's 1941 play, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, in which Hitler, in the persona of the principal character Arturo Ui, a Chicago racketeer in the cauliflower trade, is ruthlessly satirised. Brecht, who was German but left when the Nazis came to power, also expressed his opposition to the National Socialist and Fascist movements in other of his most famous plays.

Outside Germany, Hitler was made fun of or depicted as a maniac. There are many notable examples in contemporary Hollywood films. Several Three Stooges shorts, the first being You Nazty Spy (1940), the very first Hollywood work lampooning Hitler and the Nazis in which the boys, with Moe Howard portraying "Moe Hailstone", as the Hitler character, are made dictators of the fictional country Moronica. This short in particular implies that business interests were behind Hitler's rise to power, and was said to be Moe Howard's favorite Stooges short subject. A sequel was released a year later entitled I'll Never Heil Again. This one illustrated the disagreements between Hitler and the League of Nations. In other Three Stooges shorts, Hitler is referred to as "Schicklgruber" in reference to his father Alois Hitler's birth name. Charlie Chaplin made fun of Hitler as "Adenoid Hynkel," the world domination obsessed anti-semite dictator of Tomainia in his 1940 movie The Great Dictator, who is played by Charlie Chaplin. This is one of the most recognizable Hitler parodies.

Especially during World War II, Hitler was caricatured in numerous animated shorts, including Der Fuehrer's Face, a 1942 Disney wartime propaganda cartoon featuring Donald Duck, and Herr Meets Hare with Bugs Bunny. However, Hitler's first appearance on a Warner Brothers cartoon was in Bosko's Picture Show in 1932 in a short gag where Hitler is shown chasing after Jimmy Durante with an ax. George Grosz painted Cain, or Hitler in Hell (1944) showing the dead attacking Hitler in Hell. The photomontage artist John Heartfield made frequent use of Hitler's image as a target for his brand of barbed satire during Hitler's lifetime. In Fritz Lang's 1941 movie Man Hunt, which opened in theaters before America's entry into the war, Hitler is seen in the scope of a British hunter's rifle. In Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 movie To Be or Not to Be (as well as in Mel Brooks' remake in 1983), an actor from a Polish stage group impersonates Hitler to enable the escape of the troupe to England. In the opening scenes of Citizen Kane (1941), Charles Foster Kane is described and shown as supporting, then denouncing Hitler.

Apart from Hollywood films, Hitler was the subject for several comic book superheroes who battled Hitler directly or indirectly in comics published during World War II. Superheroes that fought Hitler include Superman, Captain America, The Shield, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. The first Captain America comic showed Captain America hitting Hitler on the jaw. Captain America's archenemy, Red Skull, was established as being an apprentice to Hitler himself. In Superman vol 1 #15 the dictator Razan appeared, who attempted to invade a nearby democratic nation. Superman defeated his army, and Razan was shot while trying to escape.

Hitler was mocked in satirical folk songs such as "Stalin Wasn't Stallin'" or when new lyrics were created to old songs such as "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" (to the tune of the "Colonel Bogey March").

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