A comic novel about Adolf Hitler has become a best seller in Germany, and its publishers plan for publication in at least 17 other countries. The novel, titled “Er Ist Wieder Da” or “He’s Back” in English, is based on the premise that Hitler didn’t die in his bunker in 1945 and has returned to Berlin in 2011. The book, written by Timur Vermes, has sold over 250,000 copies in Germany alone.
The book’s success has helped drive a debate over rising neo-Nazism, disillusion with a failing currency and fears of inflation – the same pernicious mix which enabled Hitler to come to power in the 1930s.
Some say its success is proof that the guilt-ridden postwar generation has given way to one able to laugh at the monster who still haunts them.
“The once mighty Fuehrer does not die in the Berlin bunker at the end of WW2 but wakes after a long sleep on a plot of wasteland in a capital he expects to find swarming with occupying Russian soldiers.
He wanders the streets until a newsagent takes pity on him and lets him sleep in his kiosk and, while people obviously recognise Hitler, they assume he is a comedian playing a role.
His unintentionally hilarious monologues spark amusement and he is given a guest slot on the show of a Turkish-born comedy star, Ali Wizgür, and instantly drives ups the ratings.
There follows stardom on YouTube and, after winning the backing of a tabloid newspaper, he goes into politics, whipping up hatred against speeding drivers and dog-fouled pavements.”
Vermes said he wanted to use a comic theme to portray the “real Hitler” saying, he was “certainly megalomaniacal and deeply disturbed, but also charming, polite and flexible.”