Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


The Daily Hitler

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There is actually a website called The Daily Hitler, and it’s not the product of neo-Nazis seeking their regular fix of the Fuhrer. It’s the work of Israeli artist Nir Avigad. And although I know I am going to get clobbered by both sides on this one, I have no choice. Why? Because we are the first generation that will outlive the Survivors of the Shoah.
That means two things: first, that continuing to remember the way we have until now is impossible and second, that forgetting would be obscene. How will we remember in the twenty first century? How will we recall our painful past without becoming hostage to it? No one person has the answer to those and similar questions, but we need to try. It’s actually why I edited Remember for Life: Holocaust Survivors’ Stories of Faith and Hope. And it’s why I think that attempts to wrestle with our use of Holocaust imagery are so important.
Avigad’s installation, a wall of images depicting Hitler’s face on a dog, on Theodore Herzel, and in a Looney Toons logo, just to name a few, went on display this week in Jerusalem. It can also be viewed at www.thedailyhitler.com to which he regularly adds new images. Needless to say many people have lodged protests against the display of this work which breaks a long-held taboo against such light-hearted depictions.
But objections to this work can not be that some things are simply beyond depiction. Isn’t that a status reserved for God? Do we really want Hitler on that same pedestal? So, what is it?


Among the things that struck me in the New York Jewish Week article which brought this to my attention, was the fact that on the page which tells the story on-line, there is an add for the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which I can not imagine being a real fan of Avigad’s work. Yet, they will profit from that work when people respond to their ad that accompanies it. Ironic, no?
I think that the real issue here is timing. Avigad uses Hitler as an icon or an image – he claims that it is one of evil, but I am not convinces. But it doesn’t really matter. An image is something that represents (or stands for) something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible. But there are still many people with direct experience of Hitler and they don’t need any help in making the association. For them, this art really is wrong.
But for others, with no such direct association, it may be a worthwhile effort. So like with all pain, the issue should be proximity not propriety. If we can remember that, there is room to both like this art and loath it – not because beauty is all in the eye of the beholder, but because memory is all always about the experience of the one trying to remember.



  • LAURA MUSHKAT

    This seems very much like the broohah of a few years ago when an artist had a pic in a museum of the Christian’s Jesus with body water.
    If the museum is a private one it is their perogative. If the museum uses public funds then the public has the right to protest. Then there say actually means something. Otherwise it is just publicity.
    Same with the internet site. One who goes to a site called the Daily Hitler has got to expect something they will not like to put it mildly!
    Frankly if you are warned about something you find distateful but go to the site or the museum you can not complain.
    I am sure there are many who think that any mention of Hitler is a good thing in that it brings up mention of all he and his followers did thus making sure “we will never forget”

  • DC

    I think it is akin to Mel Brooks’ mocking of Hitler in “The Producers” or the more poignant (because it was contemporary and made by someone who fled Germany) “To Be or Not to Be,” taking an icon of terror and making it small and silly. I am not saying it is good art, just that it is an understandable human impulse to want to reduce such an enormous figure of evil to a manageable scale.
    It’s also an understandable human impulse to try to attract attention through outrageous behavior, one that is well-established in the arts.

  • Lbenjdale

    I applaud this young, Jewish artist for the courage to disabuse himself of the “Stockholm Syndrome” in the way he relates to Hilter. The Jews love Hitler because he validates their feelings of victimhood. They use it as a trump card to diminish the suffering of others. We Jews need to recognize that in the 21st century we are the victors, not the victims, and need to change our attitudes and actions to reflect that reality.

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    Buildings are expensive and not every person can buy it. Nevertheless, loans are invented to help different people in such kind of hard situations.

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