“He is back”, the return of Adolf Hitler by Timur Vermes – review by Rebecca Mais

“The theme song was introduced by a simple bass line and I appeared in some old footage, with my arm raised, waving to the SA troops as they paraded through Nuremberg. I followed some excerpts from the Triumph of the will by Leni Riefenstahl. As the images scrolled by, a courteous voice sang: ‘he’s back, he’s here again’.

August 30, 2011, Adolf Hitler, been dead for 68 years, or so it was believed, he wakes up in a field on the outskirts of Berlin. The noises of war have given way to the chirping of birds, the grayness of war has given way to the many colors of the German metropolis but Hitler still wears his uniform complete with a cap.

So much has changed since that distant 1945 but Hitler does not allow himself to be discouraged by the noveltiesindeed he uses them as a means to return to the limelight and regain his rightful place. Obviously no one believes it is the real Hitler and, taken for a very skilful imitator, moreover a comedian, not to mention grotesque, he has the opportunity to pursue a television career and thus to spread his ideas once again.

This is the plot in shortlatest book by Timur Vermes“Er ist wieder da” (“He’s back” in the Italian version, BompianiMay 2013) which is climbing the charts of best-selling books all over the world and now also translated into Italian, whose cover shows how immediate it is to recognize Hitler’s face just by outlining his haircut and mustache recreated through the title.

The successful parody of Vermes it does not fail to make the reader smile but an amused first reaction is followed shortly after by a second definable chill which leads to a reflection on history and of that controversial figure who was Adolf Hitler.

As it is normal to imagine there was no lack of controversy, especially in Germany where the book was published first, for having evoked such a terrible protagonist of the most recent history. But why not appreciate the rather successful attempt to bring it back to life and show it among us, being able to take a small revenge by laughing about it?

Why have to speak ill of a book that is certainly well written only because it has Adolf Hitler as the protagonist while the imaginative trilogy of a woman denigrated by a man too exalted by his ego has been exalted for months? In conclusion the differences between Adolf Hitler and the known Christian Gray they are not that high if you think about it.

The question is rather delicate, it cannot be denied, but Timur Vermes has the merit of having managed to create a story with an ending accompanied by a free interpretation. An open ending, perhaps too much, which however allows the reader to wander with the imagination and to develop a personal judgment. An Adolf Hitler outlined in some traits with extreme precision, with his frankness and cruelty.

A führer who hasn’t lost his desire to excel and to carry out his perverse ideas but who at the same time never forgets the well-being of the German people.

Among the various criticisms there was the one according to which the reader would run the risk of identifying with Hitler and its well-known ideals creating negative consequences but, given the circumstances, it would therefore be risky to read even so many books with the same fear. Each novel must be read with the right distance, especially when one is aware of the fact that, as in this case, it is a fictitious story. Or is it perhaps safer to let the books of Moccia, to make a name among many, to our children?

Certainly it is safe to assume that there are more or less educational elements in both books but if nothing else in Timur’s book there is the possibility of doing a sort of refresher of the history of the last sixty yearsin some cases history ‘according to Hitler’ but it is still history.

Written by Rebecca Mais

“He is back”, the return of Adolf Hitler by Timur Vermes – review by Rebecca Mais – OUBLIETTE MAGAZINE