“so, did you hear the latest one about the Fuhrer?”
The following is from Berlin Embassy by William Russell. The author was studying German in the Third Reich when he was hired by the American Embassy as a visa clerk. This memoir, which I like a lot and have reviewed before, gives a discerning look at everyday life in the Third Reich before and for several months after, the breakout of World War Two. Russell had a good ear and caught a lot of interesting things people said.
In his memoir, which he wrote in 1940, immediately upon returning to the US, he writes:
“The following joke was popular in Germany for many months just before the outbreak of the war.
Adolf Hitler and Dr. Goebbels were out riding, when they accidently ran over a dog and killed him.
“Well,” said Goebbels, “think I should find the owner of the dog, and apologize.”
“Go on, then,” Hitler growled, “but see that you come right back.”
One hour later, Dr. Goebbels appeared at the car, much the worse for alcohol.
Seeing that Hitler was extremely angry, Goebbels hastened to explain his absence and his condition. “It was like this,” he said. “I found the house where the owner of the dog lived. I knocked at his door, and when he opened it, I simply said, ‘Heil Hitler; the dog is dead.’
“Thank God,” the stranger said immediately, “let’s celebrate.”
About nine months ago, I received a letter from a fascinating woman in Texas who had lived in Berlin for several years as a young girl during the time Russell was there because her father was running the German division of an American company. She remembered William Russell quite well and said he was a nice young man who often gave candy to American children. She had googled him to discover if he were still alive (he isn’t) and came across a blog post I had written about him and his book. So she wrote me and told me the story of how she had met him and remembered him. I have had subsequent email conversations with her and she is most interesting.
You can find my original post on Berlin Embassy and William Russell here: