Wednesday, March 17, 2004
SO the normalisation,
the de-demonisation, continues apace.
Mussolini-street in Sicily, now Hitler in
effigy as a tourist attraction in
I doubt he will
last long, He still provokes a spitting
rage in certain of his enemies: the last
time I visited Madame Tussaud's in London
about twenty years ago the rather
amateurish wax effigy of the Führer
on display at the establishment was
encased behind an inch-thick glass shield,
which was covered with (one presumes)
The last time I made a
pilgrimage (I use that word purely for the
benefit of the press) to the Obersalzberg,
in about 1990, there was a live "Adolf
Hitler" strolling about amongst the huge
crowds of visitors complete with armband
and brown tunic, willing to be
photographed with them for a fee. The
Bavarian authborities turned a benign
Around half a million
tourists visit the site of the Berghof
each year, and take the elevator up
through the mountain (erbaut by
Martin Bormann in 1937) to take tea
where Hitler once did.
We understand that not
many tourists are interested in finding
out where the former German President
Richard von Weizsäcker once
took tea -- or Richard von
Speichellecker,* as I used to call him in
my speeches in the Federal Republic.
to the Heart of Berlin - in Wax
By Dave Graham
BERLIN (Reuters) - A life-size
wax figure of Adolf Hitler has gone on
display in the heart of Berlin in what museum
officials say is the first such public exhibition
of the Nazi dictator in post-war Germany. "Provided
it's all just art, it's permitted," a Culture
Ministry spokesman said Tuesday, when asked if the
Hitler waxwork was breaking Germany's tough
anti-fascist laws banning the use of Nazi symbols
and insignia. Hitler shares a room at the "Galerie
Art'el" museum with his World War II adversaries
Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and
Winston Churchill, overlooking the former
Cold War border crossing Checkpoint Charlie in the
once-divided German capital.
Museum director Inna Vollstädt said
Hitler would soon be reunited with his former Nazi
henchmen Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler
and Joseph Goebbels in the waxwork displays.
"Until now there has never been a wax figure of
Hitler displayed in Germany," said Vollstädt.
"We have these men to thank for the Berlin Wall. We
want them all," she said, referring to the Cold War
barrier. Vollstädt, born in Russia, has
assembled a collection of wax models including
Count Dracula, French porn actress Lolo Ferrari and
ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes.ANTI-FASCIST
it has been nearly 60 years since Hitler and his
top deputies killed themselves at the end of the
Third Reich, artists must be mindful of the anti-
fascist laws. German authorities have long been at
pains to distance the country from Hitler's legacy.
The remains of the Führer's bunker in central
Berlin have been sealed off to prevent neo-Nazis
from turning it into a shrine. In the museum an
unusually placid-looking Hitler stands
conservatively attired in a gray jacket by a
window, while seated figures of Microsoft co-
founder Bill Gates and former Beatle Paul
McCartney drink tea nearby.
At the reception desk of the museum near the
East-West border crossing where Soviet and U.S.
tanks faced each other in a tense Cold War moment
in 1961, visitors find a middle-aged woman writing.
Many do not spot the fake. "That's our wax Agatha
Christie," said Vollstädt. "People often
mistakenly ask her for a ticket." Vollstädt,
who has lived in Germany for 35 years but still
speaks with a Russian accent, rented her first
waxworks from the St. Petersburg wax museum but
will add more in a bid to create Berlin's answer to
the famed Madame Tussaud's in London.
Exhibits such as Ferrari proved such popular
attractions before coming to Berlin that they
required repair work. "Lolo Ferrari was in
Cyprus before we got her," said Vollstädt.
"She'd had so many hands on her that there was a
hole between her breasts -- so we had to fix
Vollstädt said the waxworks with real hair
and prosthetic eyes cost between $5,000 and $10,000
to make. Soviet authorities sent many of her
relatives to gulags, but she sees the waxworks as a
way to put things in perspective. "An uncle of mine
got five years in prison for making a joke about
Stalin," said Vollstädt. "But I think when you
see Stalin here and the others cast in wax, you
realize it's all history and it's good to be able
say -- never again."© Reuters 2004.
All Rights Reserved.
dossier on Hitler