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Er ist wieder da: Der Roman by Timur Vermes
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Er ist wieder da: Der Roman (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Timur Vermes

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8526210,533 (3.42)51
Member:PhysiCaRollMops
Title:Er ist wieder da: Der Roman
Authors:Timur Vermes
Info:Eichborn Verlag (2013), Edition: 13, Gebundene Ausgabe, 400 pages
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Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
I bought Timur Vermes book, Look Who’s Back, as an ebook just because I felt uncomfortable about the looks that I might get for reading a book that has an outline of Hitler’s famous comb-over and the title molded into his iconic moustache.

The main idea behind the book is that Hitler miraculously comes back to life in modern-day Berlin. It is a melding of old and new, past and present. The book is peppered with dark humour and satire. It is also filled with known (heavily researched and discussed) Nazi ideologies that are palmed off as comedy at its darkest.

There were four things that stood out for me in this book:

- The Führer is nothing without the Volk.

- How far are you willing to go to stand your moral ground?

- Could we recognise a Hitler-like figure in today’s world?

- Dark comedy seems to be a common coping mechanism for Germans when reflecting on WWII.

Through Vermes use of first-person narration, the reader is given the opportunity to develop an uncomfortable bond with Hitler. I feel the choice of having Hitler as the narrator was deliberate for two reasons. As previously mentioned, it fostered an awkward relationship with the reader and secondly, it allows us to see the modern world through Hitler’s 1945 eyes.

When Hitler is questioned about his involvement in the WWII and the Third Reich, he brings up an interesting statement: the Führer is nothing without the Volk. As we know, Hitler was elected democratically by the German people to serve the German people. He had written a book that outlined all of his intentions, sinister and otherwise, and when he was elected he set himself on a path that allowed him to achieve all that he had hoped for the German Volk. He was a politician who kept his word. Right down to every last Jew.

Most Germans and in fact people who experienced WWII and the Holocaust have passed away. They leave behind shattered memories of war, destruction, murder, and helplessness. On the one hand, many Jewish families have passed down the trauma of the Holocaust through their families. On the other, many Germans have passed down their guilt from WWII to their children and their children’s children. But when should it end? When does a country stop paying for the sins of its forefathers and foremothers? We only need to look at the reactions to Germany’s win against Brazil in the World Cup this year to see that Nazi rhetoric still haunts Germany.

What does Look Who’s Back suggest about Germany’s modern day Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past)? I feel that this book shows that Germany is still coming to terms with its past, and that I am not sure if it ever will.

When Hitler has his T.V. ‘comedy’ appearance, he shares the show with a comedian Gagmez. Gagmez plays the typical immigrant stereotype. After Hitler’s first performance, Gagmez is outraged by Hitler’s remarks. He complains loudly and often about Hitler taking ‘comedy’ too far. Yet, in the end Gagmez does not stand up to Hitler. In fact, in the book Hitler says that if he were Gagmez he would not have budged a single inch. He would have stood his moral ground and faced death, jail, and violence to stand up for what he fanatically believed. The scenes that make up this section of the plot had me wondering about the lengths to which I would go for my own morals.

Gagmez represents many of us. We have a passion or an ideal for our society, but we do not push the issue as much as we could. We all have moral compasses – ones that I hope all point in more or less the same direction – and yet in many instances, we are too quick to turn away, to say ‘Well it’s not happening to me.’ Which brings me to my next point about this scenario with Gagmez and Hitler; can we learn something from Hitler? I realise that I’m going into treacherous waters here, but I think that we can. Hitler fought for terrible ideologies, so much so that he started a world war. We need to fight back against these horrible forms of oppression with as much passion and unshakable will. It’s something to think about at least.

I think one of the most interesting questions that the book proposes is: could we recognise Hitler today? Would we be able to see him for what he was? The end of Vermes book suggests that we would not. Hitler slowly rises to power. Despite receiving a beating from some far-right thugs he is offered a new show with a bigger budget, a lucrative book deal, and a huge salary increase. It would not be far fetched to image that Look Who’s Back: Part II might chronicle Hitler’s rise to power, again.

Hitler is able to manipulate everyone around him in a very cold and calculating way. He does not really feel empathy in the way that others seem to, yet he knows the correct social cues for it. In the book, he is able to convince a Jewish grandmother to let her granddaughter to continue to work as his secretary.

The whole book seems to play on the idea of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, Hitler says on several occasions that people should call him Uncle Wolf. The idea of the wolf also brings me to one of Germany’s most famous fairytales; Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf is able to deceive Little Red Riding Hood almost until the end. The appearance of the Lumberjack is what saves her in the end. But is it safe to wait for a Lumberjack to save us? Or do we need to be more savvy?

Lastly, I wanted to talk about using comedy in remembering trauma. I always feel that comedy exists in the grey areas of our humanity. Some people say that comedy is pain with time. But is the war a joking matter? Several times in the book the phrase, ‘The Jews are no laughing matter,’ comes up. And indeed, there are no jokes about the Holocaust made in the book.

I feel that the Holocaust and WWII, while intertwined with one another, have their own discourses. I think that laughing about WWII is widely more acceptable than laughing about the Holocaust. Personally, I don’t think either are very funny.

Approximately 60 million people died in WWII. Germans and Austrians are told each year in school that their countries committed terrible atrocities. The schools also rarely discuss other historical events. Many younger Germans and Austrians feel frustrated by this. They are told over and over again that their country is bad. And if their country is bad, what are they? So for many, comedy is the only way they can feel any relief from the guilt being placed upon them. Whether it’s right or wrong.

I think that Vermes’ book reflects a German society struggling to come to terms with its past. But it also shows a country struggling to come to terms with how it deals with the past. I’m not sure if Vermes book could have existed before now, but I feel that its existence gives us a new way to discuss issues of remembrance, guilt, and coping with the past ( )
  bound2books | Feb 12, 2017 |
An interesting idea and well plotted out. But the pace of the story is slow. ( )
  DaffiMere | Dec 25, 2016 |
Hilarious and/or horrifying. Given recent events, readers looking for escapism might want to avoid this book, which sees a nation fall in love with a TV personality who also happens to be a far-Right fanatic. Imagine Network, but with Hitler instead of Peter Finch. Every goose step of the novel is planned so meticulously, and the plot unfurls so plausibly, that you're completely wrapped up in the fantasy/nightmare - and Vermes even manages to make our Fuhrer sympathetic. ( )
  alexrichman | Nov 15, 2016 |
Look Who's Back - Timur Vermes **

I am partial to the odd satire novel, and mostly love anything that is linked to the Second World War, so when I read the description I really thought this would be a novel I would enjoy. Obviously I was aware that the plot was going to be a little on the nuts side but the reviews were all positive so I decided to give it a try.

Ok, so the storyline has Adolf Hitler waking up some 50+ years after he committed suicide at the end of the war (he just appears, no explanation is given). People who meet him assume he is an actor who continually stays in character and his reputation slowly builds. The country warms to this crazy old guy and soon his influence starts to build as more and more people are captivated by his ‘act’, whilst he is sincere his words are perceived as being full of irony and the audience love it.

One of the reviews on the cover states ‘This uproariously funny satire will have you in stitches’, what greater accolade could it be given? Unfortunately it was the exact opposite for me. I can’t remember even having a slight smirk let alone a laugh out loud moment. Maybe the humour was lost in translation? I certainly felt as if I was on the outside of a number of the ‘jokes’ as the book was originally released in Germany and as such had more than a few references to the modern German media.

I suppose the author really did take a risk in writing ‘Look Who’s Back’, emotions still run high when the Third Reich is mentioned and I bet he faced a lot of criticism. Certainly he has lost some stars on Amazon by reviewers because of this, but I feel that readers should know exactly what to expect when you pick the book up. For me it has received a poor review simply because it wasn’t funny, in fact I would even go so far as to say it bored me.

Not something I can recommend, there are much better books out there to be wasting your time with this. A 5 star idea written as a 1 star novel, so 2 stars overall. ( )
  Bridgey | Sep 28, 2016 |
Well-written and funny in many places. The low mark is I don't really think anyone should be writing about Hitler as a Charlie Chaplin Buffon, never mind a german. It even makes jokes about 5m Jews exterminated. Oh! How I laughed when I read the Holocaust helped with the world's overpopulation. A friend said, but there is a lot of unhappiness in the world. Yes, of course. and I don't want a sit-com about Isis or famine or Tsumamis either. ( )
  mumoftheanimals | Sep 22, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Timur Vermesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andersson, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bulloch, JamieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gabelli, FrancescaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nes, Liesbeth vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slobodan DamnjanovićTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiebel, JohannesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Das Volk hat mich wohl am meisten überrascht.
It was probably the German people, the Volk, which surprised me most of all.
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Summer 2011. Berlin. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of ground, alive and well. Things have changed - no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognise him, though - as a brilliant, satirical impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable, happens, and the ranting Hitler takes off, goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own TV show, becomes someone who people listen to. All the while he's still trying to convince people that yes, it really is him, and yes, he really means it. Look Who's Back is a black and brilliant satire of modern media-bloated society, seen through the eyes of the Fuhrer himself. Adolf is by turns repellent, sympathetic and hilarious, but always fascinating. Look Who's Back is outrageously clever, outrageously funny - and outrageously plausible.… (more)

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