The Western world isn’t ready for another Adolf Hitler — even one immobilized in wax. July 5th, on the first day at a new Madame Tussauds museum in Berlin, Germany, a man savagely decapitated a controversial wax figure of Hitler. The man was arrested, and the statue and head were carted off from public view.
Flaunting a Hitler likeness is risky in any tourist attraction. It can work as a publicity gambit (think of decades of book stores lined with bestsellers with swastika covers), but marketers blunder so easily across the Maginot Line separating historical context from tasteless exploitation.
In Hong Kong in 2007, we noticed tourists — just regular couples and families — gleefully standing shoulder to shoulder with the Fuhrer and giving the Nazi salute to their comrades with cameras. Acceptable behavior in the Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere?
The Berlin Tussauds anticipated similar antics, and made sure their Hitler looked more defeated, with a sign discouraging photo ops. Nothing saying “Don’t Cut Off My Head,” though.
There’s just something about seeing Mr. H. standing there, among kings and rock stars, like he still owns the place.
I still can’t believe they thought Hitler, of all wax people, would stand unmolested for any length of time. Still, decapitation makes a bold statement, much more than a simple stab-with-a-ballpoint or something along those lines.
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