In 1940 Charlie Chaplin released his film The Great Dictator, a satire about Hitler (a man with whom he shared a particular style of moustache). Chaplin’s tramp in the film is a Jewish barber who has lost his memory in the First World War and after years in hospital is released into a militarised Germany under a dictatorship he does not recognise. He looks identical to the country’s dictator, Adenoid Hynkel (also played by Chaplin), and the plot tumbles into a burlesque of mistaken identities. Hynkel is sent to a concentration camp and the barber, now removed from the ghetto and resident at the autocrat’s palace, makes a rabid and hysterical speech in favour of peace whilst lambasting the evils of racism. Chaplin watched Hitler speaking in Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will many times in order to mimic the rhetoric. Continue reading
Here is a photograph of a woman washing in a bathtub. Her big black boots are on a bathmat made dirty by them, and her clothes are discarded on a chair under her wristwatch. She is scrubbing her neck with a flannel and there is a framed photograph of Adolf Hitler on the lip of the tub. It was taken on the evening of 30th April1945 in the bathroom of Hitler’s residence in Munich, the night Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide in their bunker in Berlin. Continue reading
My grandmother, Lady Freeland, died aged 92, in 2012. This is the eulogy I gave at her funeral in the church of St Peter ad Vincula, Coggeshall, Essex two years ago this week. It was published at the time in a slightly amended form by the parish magazine of St. Peter’s. The editor removed all references to adultery and drug taking, probably for dubious reasons of rectitude.