Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
I just watched the German satirical comedy Er ist Wieder Da or as it is called in its English title Look Who’s Back, on Netflix.
The film is about Hitler who wakes up in a garden near the former Reichs Chancellory In 2014 with no knowledge of anything that happened in the intervening 50 years. He is befriended by a man that runs a newspaper kiosk, as well as a down on his luck television producer. Neither man believes that he is Hitler, but in the world of YouTube, Facebook, and Google, the Führer becomes a reality television celebrity.
I am not going to give away the story or or any spoilers. At times it is hysterically funny as it goes between scripted scenes to unscripted scenes done on the streets of Berlin and other German cities with people who are not actors. I guess that for me, the unscripted scenes were the most frightening, because regardless of whether the people were members of the AfD, the NPD, the CDU, the Greens, the SPD, or Die Linke, many were attracted to the the populist, anti-immigrant, and anti-democratic film version of spouted. It was like watching the Borat of the Third Reich.
However, there is one exchange of dialogue toward the end of the film that is far too troubling not to cite here, simply because it is not only appropriate to Hitler and Germany, but to France and Le Pen, Hungary and Orban, Turkey and Erdogan, the Philippines and Duterte; and if we don’t think we are so different that 1933 Germany, the United States and Donald Trump.
The television producer who helped bring Hitler back to fame says:
“Yes history repeats itself. You are fooling people with your propaganda.”
“Oh Sawatski. In 1933, people were not fooled by propaganda. They elected a leader who openly disclosed his plans with great clarity. The Germans elected me.”
The film is frightening, it might even be more so if I was German, but it is frightening enough in the United States.
That exchange between Hitler and Sawatski demonstrates exactly what President Trump and his base believe, otherwise he would never have remained in office despite everything. The fact is, that like Hitler, there are many people who love him and would do all they could to see his racist, authoritarian, and unconstitutional dreams come into being. In 2015 candidate Trump made the comment:
Like those that followed Hitler into the Bunker and flames of Berlin, Trump’s most loyal followers will do that today.
I have never laughed so hard at a movie that terrified me more than this. I have to say, that my friends is exceptional satire.