Nazi parody aims to break German taboo

BERLIN (Reuters) - A made-in-Germany Nazi satire which parodies 1981 submarine epic “Das Boot” will try to prove the Third Reich is no longer taboo terrain for German comedians.

In director Sven Unterwaldt’s “U-900,” comedian Atze Schroeder stars as a German forced to flee Nazi Germany after being caught in flagrante with a Nazi bigwig’s daughter, whose life he later manages to save by hijacking “U-Boot 900.”

The spoof, which premieres across Germany Thursday, is not the first to take a tragicomic approach to the Nazis.

Last year, Jewish director Dani Levy’s “My Fuehrer -- The Truly Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler,” was panned by critics even though it had an unexpectedly strong box office run.

The Hitler satire basked in massive media attention for weeks because of its tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Hitler as a drug-addicted bed-wetter.

Schroeder, a fast-talking former newsstand owner who recently became one of Germany’s most popular stand-up comedians, said he was fully aware of the country’s post-war trauma over the Holocaust.

“Making Nazis look foolish -- that’s something honorable for a comedian even in this day and age,” Schroeder told German magazine TV Spielfilm.

“It’s not a history lesson but rather it’s just a comedy about a guy who manages to get himself out of just about every possible jam you could imagine.”

Weaned on 60 years of guilt and shame for the Nazi crimes of their grandparents, Germans long equated history with pain and filmmakers avoided any dramatic treatment of their own 20th century past. The Nazi era was left to documentary filmmakers.

Wolfgang Petersen’s “Das Boot,” an award-winning film about an ill-fated submarine crew, was a rare exception until the self-imposed ban began to crumble in 2004 with the “Downfall.” Other German-made dramas about the Nazi era followed.

Schroeder tested the waters himself with an episode of his television comedy show called “Schroeder’s List,” a parody of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List.”

Levy has made a career out of shattering taboos in Germany. His 2005 award-winning box office smash comedy “Go for Zucker: An Unorthodox Comedy” poked fun at modern Jewish life in Germany, where guilt over the Holocaust remains pervasive.

In 2002, the first German-made film comedy about the Nazis was aired on public television network ARD.

“Goebbels and Geduldig” was a poorly received farce about the Nazi propaganda minister and a good-humored Jewish look-alike who swap places in 1944. Its script had to be re-written dozens of times by nervous TV executives.

Editing by Philippa Fletcher