Where is Mel Brooks, now that we need him? Ahe Jewish webzine Tablet, Marjorie Ingall reports on prize nominations from the Romance Writers Association for a bodice-ripper about an SS officer and a Jewish concentration camp prisoner. This is not a joke:
The hero of the book is an SS Kommandant who rescues the heroine from a firing squad in Dachau and brings her to Theresienstadt as his personal secretary. She’s blonde and blue-eyed, and he believes she’s not Jewish even though he knows she was raised in a Jewish family. They fall in love with the help of a magic Bible (!). The story is designed to be a retelling of The Book of Esther, with the prisoner Hadassah as Esther, and the high-ranking Nazi Aric as Ahasueros. (I guess that makes Hitler Haman?)
Well, we could use a prequel to “Springtime for Hitler.” But there’s nothing new about skanky Nazi-Jewish romance, in fact, nothing more distasteful than the decades-long affair between philosopher Martin Heidegger, an unrepentant Nazi and anti-Semite, and the secular Jewish philsosopher Hannah Arendt. Arendt made herself hated in the Jewish world by pooh-poohing Eichmann’s crimes in her famous New Yorker series on the Eichmann trial, as mere “mediocrity of evil.” The implication was that lofty minds like Heidegger’s couldn’t be implicated in such crimes.
Arendt started sleeping with the married Heidegger as a graduate student in the 1920s, and bolstered his postwar reputation by appearing with him in public, although Heidegger had remained a Nazi Party member until 1945 and never offered word of apology. Mel Brooks get Arendt back, though, by including her in “Young Frankenstein.” Her married name really was Frau Blucher, and her film incarnation–the aging spinster pining for the mad maker of monsters, the mention of whose name terrifies animals–suits her perfectly.