Hitler content makes light of Holocaust during Yom Hashoah
Amidst Facebook posts by community members marking this solemn day, a very different video did the rounds: a humorous clip of Hitler ranting to his generals that he can’t get coffee from shops in Norwood during the lockdown. It was created by local Jewish community members on the platform captiongenerator.com.
Speaking to the SA Jewish Report on condition of anonymity, they said, “This video has been doing the rounds for many years, covering a range of topics. It was just a way to bring some humour and light-heartedness to these stressful lockdown times.
“We certainly wouldn’t want to offend anyone in our community deliberately. We are a very proudly Jewish family with strong ties to Israel. We apologise if we offended anyone, especially with the recent commemoration of Yom Hashoah.”
Meanwhile, a game titled Secret Hitler which explores the rise of fascism is available for purchase for R919 (on sale) from local online store takealot.com. In January, the game was removed from the shelves of three stores in Montreal, Canada, following complaints from members of Montreal’s Jewish community.
In 2017, the origins of the game were discussed in the New York Times. It reported that in 2015, one of its creators, Mike Boxleiter, spent a weekend watching the Steven Spielberg-produced World War II mini-series Band of Brothers, which inspired him to create a board game based on Hitler’s rise to power.
“I advised them not to call it that,” said Luke Crane, Kickstarter’s head of games, after the group used his platform to raise funds. “My exact words were perhaps a bit more colourful.”
Secret Hitler’s creators are aware that some consumers won’t find any humour in the game’s title, either because Nazis aren’t a laughing matter, or because of fears about the growing visibility of white supremacists and other extremists since the election of United States President Donald Trump.
The game makers haven’t been shy about linking the game to Trump. On their website, they advise those who “don’t think there’s anything funny or cool about fascism” to address complaints to the White House.
Takealot.com hadn’t responded to questions about why it had chosen to stock the game at the time of going to press. The query comes just eight months after this newspaper queried why the digital store stocked anti-Semitic texts like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which it has since removed from its platform.
Milton Shain, a local anti-Semitism expert and emeritus professor of history at the University of Cape Town, says, “Satire can be fine and I think the clip is meant in that sense. I doubt it’s driven by anti-Semitism of any sort. But it’s insensitive insofar as Hitler still evokes – understandably and correctly – horror, and arguably shouldn’t be parodied in this way. There are still many people directly affected by Hitler’s actions. Survivors especially wouldn’t take kindly to this, and should be respected.
“The game is even more problematic. One wonders if the equivalent game between liberation fighters in South Africa and the security police would be accepted as a game,” he said “The sad reality, however, is that, with time, all horrors become subject to insensitivity.”