A German man waited patiently in line yesterday for the grand opening of Madame Tussauds’ latest museum in Berlin. He was the second person in the building. What did he do?
He promptly ran to the wax statue of Adolf Hitler on display and ripped off his head, shouting three times as he did, “Never war again!”
Germany’s national tabloid Bild has the whole story today (sorry, it’s in German), and it’s pretty funny.
A man authorities are only calling “Frank L.”, from the Berlin neighborhood of Kruezberg (where I live!) tussled with and injured several security guards on his way to bringing down the Hitler display. Witnesses say he was fanatical and determined.
His girlfriend, who was there, said only, “I am proud of what he did. He was really angry for days about this display. He is a quiet, loving person.”
Police arrested Frank and questioned him, but eventually let him go. He told police that he simply objected to the proximity of the Hitler display to the city’s Jewish museum (though, in reality, they are not that close: Tussauds is near the Brandenburg Gate, while the Jewish museum is more than a 30 minute walk away).
The Hitler display at Madame Tussauds has been a subject of controversy in Germany for months, with most concluding that the man who wreaked havoc on a good chunk of the world does not deserve to be immortalized in wax for deep-pocketed tourists to gawk at. In many ways, the controversy is not such a surprise in a country that still takes all matters relating to WWII seriously and that has officially outlawed naming boys Adolf.
Predictably, the German press today mocked the attack. On its German Web site, the major news magazine Der Spiegel said, “Finally a Hitler assassination that worked!”
The Hitler display at Tussauds cost about $300,000 and right now museum officials are debating whether to replace the display, which originally depicted Hitler at work at his desk.
Reaction today among museum goers was mixed.
Bild quotes one tourist from the German city of Mannheim saying, “Hitler belongs to our history. That’s why I would have liked to see him.”
Another tourist says bluntly, in a nod to Germany’s past greatness in tennis, “Hitler? I want to see Boris Becker!”