Rudolph Herzog Talks Nazi Humor

Rudolph Herzog, the director, scholar, and son of Werner, was in New York to promote his new book about a subject surprisingly close to his own family. A hoarding great-aunt-“a bit of a mess”-had kept “anti-Hitler satirical poems” in her apartment from the 1940s

Mr. Herzog set out to uncover the history of humor during the Third Reich (the end result was his new book Dead Funny). It’s a subject he only knew as a film fan. “I always loved The Great Dictator,” he said. “I watched every single [Chaplin] film and this was always my big favorite.” Mr. Herzog told us some of the jokes, at the expense of Nazis. The Transom laughed. “See-it’s funny, but it’s also grim!”

As for other German humor, the Berlin-based Mr. Herzog says, “there’s a joke-the shortest books in history. One is English Cooking and the other is 500 Years of German Humor.” Mr. Herzog prefers British humor: “Fawlty Towers is really cringe-worthy-they have an episode on the Germans which is really cringe material! He keeps saying that you shouldn’t bring up the war, and he keeps bringing up the war-it’s great because you cringe but enjoy just the same.”

Dead Funny began its life as a film-had Mr. Herzog’s famous filmmaker father provided any advice? On this subject, Mr. Herzog wasn’t laughing. “He left me to it.”

ddaddario@observer.com :: @DPD_

Rudolph Herzog Talks Nazi Humor