BERLIN – Eighty years after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, a novel that imagines his return to modern-day Berlin has become a best-seller in Germany, though a comedy about the Fuehrer is not to everyone’s taste.
Instead of committing suicide in his bunker on April 30, 1945, in “He’s Back” (“Er Ist Wieder Da”), Hitler wakes up in 2011 without the slightest idea what has happened in the intervening 66 years. He stumbles through Berlin, dazed by a Germany that is now ruled by a woman and is home to millions of Turks.
In one scene, the Nazi leader asks a group of boys for directions, addressing them as “Ronaldo Hitler youth.” He has mistaken their shirts bearing the name of the soccer star as some kind of military uniform.
“Who’s the old guy?” the boys ask each other.
Such is the tone in the nearly 400-page novel by Timur Vermes, a 45-year-old journalist.
In a celebrity-obsessed society where success is often gauged by follower numbers on social networks or YouTube views, Hitler soon becomes the star of an entertainment show with a Turkish host. In the book, Hitler discovers jeans, tries to create an email address and discovers cooking shows.
A farce in poor taste to some, a political satire to others, “He’s Back” has done well in bookstores. With a print run of 360,000, the book recently made Germany’s best-seller list and is set to be published in English and more than a dozen other languages.