Directors's Nazi Rally Stuns Berlin

Swastika Banners Caused Looks of DisbeliefBerliners could not believe their eyes as swastika banners were suddenly draped next to the capital's cathedral and they witnessed thousands of spectators cheering as an actor playing a dictator delivered a speech in barking tones.

The scene that caused elderly people to shake their heads in disbelief was set up by a German Jewish director recreating New Year's Day of 1939 and staging his own personal Nazi rally and "stop cinema's glorification" of Hitler's Nazi regime.

Dictator addressing the crowd - The Reichstag in Nazi Party days

Dani Levy, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, says his film is intended as an antidote to Downfall, which followed the last days of Hitler in his Berlin bunker as the capital was beseiged by the Russian army,

"All the Nazis who are currently being ennobled in the cinema must finally be stripped of their mystique," he said.

Sensitivity of the subject matter and fears of possible sabotage mean few details about the low budget film have ever been released.

Passers-by in Berlin were astonished at the sight of the swastikas. Elderly people shook their heads in apparent disgust while younger Berliners and tourists stopped to photograph the scene through a wire security fence. Shooting of films from the war era, generally takes place within the safe confines of studios.

The extras listening to the speech cheered to order, but had to be reprimanded for being so enthusiastic that the "Fuhrer" was unable to finish his sentences.

Displaying swastikas and Nazi memorabili - and the Heil Hitler salute - are all illegal in Germany unless local governments give specific permission.Levy applied for and secured approval from Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, who agreed that the rally could go ahead - but under strict controls.

The Great Dictator starred Charlie ChaplinThe 48-year old director says he was inspired by Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator film and was keen to make a "German version" of the comic take on Hitler. Chaplin said he would never have made his film had he known the true extent of Hitler's extermination programme.

In Levy's My Fuhrer Hitler proves himself to be a weakling, who came to power only because he was given help by a Jew. The dictator in Levy's production is played by Helge Schneider, a stand-up comic most famous in Germany for his 1992 hit song Katzeklo or "cat litter".

The Central Council of Jews in Berlin okayed the film shoot. The Council's president Paul Speigel said, "We have no problem with this project because both Helge Schneider and Dani Levy are capable of approaching this work with the necessary sensitivity."

Levy rose to fame last year with his film Alles auf Zucker! (Go for Zucker), the first German-Jewish comic film since the 1930s, which won international acclaim.

My Fuhrer, as a German-made film parodying Hitler, will be the first of its kind. But other attempts to make the Third Reich a laughing matter have not always been successful. Goebbels and Geduldig, was television drama of three years ago, in which a Jewish impersonator survives the Second World War by posing as the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels.

 

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