5 July 2008

Anger at Hitler waxwork in Berlin

On this day in 2008 Madam Tussauds opened for business in Berlin, with waxworks of such notable German figures as Albert Einstein, Otto von Bismarck, Ludwig van Beethoven, Guenter Grass, Bertolt Brecht, Konrad Adenauer, Uwe Seeler, Kal Marx and supermodel Heidi Klumm. Overshadowing them all, however, was the Adolf Hitler, whose inclusion sparked a predictably heated debate.

To avoid celebrating the Nazi leader, he was depicted as a beaten man in his Berlin bunker. As an extra precaution, the statue was roped off to prevent visitors from posing with it. But these efforts to play down the Hitler controversy proved futile when the second customer through the doors proceeded to rip off the Führer’s head.

This was not the first time Hitler had caused problems for Tussauds. In 1933 his likeness appeared in the London museum, and was attacked repeatedly until its removal three years later. The exhibit reappeared after the war, when it was placed in the Chamber of Horrors. In 1978 it faced opposition once again, as the Guardian reported at the time…

Hitler was portrayed as a broken man


The Guardian, July 1978

Police arrested four protesters at the Madame Tussauds waxworks museum, following a disturbance in the Chamber of Horrors. All were supporters of the Anti-Nazi League (ANL).

The ANL recently disrupted Buster Mottram’s matches at Wimbledon after the player expressed his support for the National Front. Protesters stood up between points to shout ‘Buster Mottram is a Nazi!’ through megaphones, and were said to have contributed to the British number one’s early exit from the tournament.

On this occasion the tactics were the same, but the target was Adolf Hitler himself – or rather, his waxwork likeness. A single protester with a megaphone stood by the effigy, shouting ‘Adolf Hitler is a Nazi!’ until he was eventually removed by security guards. Outside, an angry crowd chanted: ‘Adolf, Adolf, Adolf – Out! Out! Out!’

The demonstrators were eventually dispersed by the police, but vowed that the protest would continue. ‘Adolf Hitler once said that the only thing that could have stopped his rise to power was the physical destruction of his National Socialist movement in its infancy,’ said ANL spokesman Neil Phillips. ‘We have a duty to future generations to make sure that he doesn’t raise his ugly head again.’

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