Monday, 1 June 2009

Post#124 Laughing in Spite of Oneself

Have you ever wondered about the nature of humour, why we find some things funny and others not? Let me put this another way: have you ever found something funny despite yourself, despite all of your ‘purer’ instincts. I know I have. So, here is my confession.

I did a little research on the subject of Josef Goebbels. Whatever one happens to think of this man-and I personally find him rather repulsive-he was a propagandist of genius. Shortly after he became Gauleiter of Berlin in 1928 he founded a paper, Der Angriff, which he used as a vehicle for his views and a tool of his methods. One of his targets was the Jewish police president of Berlin, a man by the name of Dr. Bernhard Weiss, constantly referred to in Der Angriff by the insulting name of ‘Isidor’.

Now, Goebbels was the kind of man best ignored, a man referred to by one of his own party comrades as a ‘poisonous dwarf’. But poor old Doctor Weiss, in many ways a prime example of a humourless Prussian bureaucrat, was forever running like a bull at Goebbels’ rag. He repeatedly took Der Angriff to court, and was repeatedly awarded damages and costs. In the meantime the circulation of the newspaper increased and increased.

On one particular occasion the paper’s cartoonist, who went by the pen name of Moljinr, produced an illustration showing Dr Weiss as a donkey. Once again Der Angriff was taken to court, and once again judgement was passed in favour of Weiss. The day following the headline in the paper was “Judge Agrees: Isidor Does Look like a Donkey.”

Yes, I laughed.

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