Dancing Nazis in Spanish Parade
Carnival actors portraying Nazis perform a choreographed dance routine. Image via Youtube

Dancing Nazis posing with rifles drawn. Women dressed in bloodstained death camp uniforms waving Israeli flags. All against a backdrop of floats decorated like crematoriums. These are images beyond poor taste in any setting, but especially during a carnival celebration.

And yet, that’s exactly what a carnival troupe in Spain decided to show off on February 24th. The Holocaust-themed parade in small-town Spain sparked global outrage this week, with many wondering how anyone could think this was a good idea. Even the Auschwitz Memorial museum was at a loss for words:

The Israeli Embassy in Spain condemned "the vile and disgusting representation...making fun of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis." Even the city of Campo de Criptana, where the parade took place, admitted “any attempt to commemorate victims clearly hadn't been achieved."

The spectacle was particularly concerning in the context of increasing rates of anti-Semitic incidents on both sides of the Atlantic.

Hate on Parade

Tail between its legs, the El Chaparral Cultural Association, the carnival troupe from nearby Las Mesas behind the more offensive part of the parade, could only apologize to anyone it had offended as it canceled all further parades planned in the region. "An erroneous image of our club has been disseminated that, really, is not what we intended. We are against the genocide against the Jewish people, for whom we feel great admiration and respect and to whom we present our apologies."

Perhaps most troubling is this was the second case of an offensive carnival in the last week, somehow "even worse" than the Belgian parade in the city of Aalst that was just removed from UNESCO's cultural heritage list because of a "recurrence of racist and anti-Semitic representations," according to the Catalan-Israeli Friendship Association.

Disturbing Trends

Human Rights Watch has been warning of a worrying wave of anti-Semitism in Europe since last June, following the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in France, a rash of attacks on Jews in Germany and patterns of anti-Semitism within the UK's Labour Party.

But it's not solely a European issue; the Jewish community hasn't had it much better in the United States.

As we've noted in previous blogs, Jews accounted for nearly half of all those victimized by religious hate crimes in 2016, and are "consistently among the top three most targeted groups" in America's largest cities, according to the FBI. A recent stabbing of five people at a Hanukkah celebration in New York, a horrific mass shooting at a synogogue in Pennsylvania in 2018, and numerous bomb threats have contributed to heightened fear in Jewish communities. 

What Were They Thinking?

While it's difficult to connect the poor judgment of one small-town Spanish carnival troupe to the more violent attacks against Jews globally, the troubling trend of people questioning and trivializing the Holocaust is nothing to scoff at. In fact, we posted on Facebook recently about a new study which found that many people were unable to correctly answer basic questions about the Holocaust. 

https://www.facebook.com/UniversalLifeChurch/photos/a.10150925934543748/10158097063548748/?type=3&theater

In this particular case, you’ve got to wonder what the carnival troupe hoped to accomplish.

Even if one wants to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they intended a JoJo Rabbit-esque satire of Nazis, the parade is a massive misread of the political climate right now. With attacks against Jews rising and anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head, it would seem prudent to check with local Jewish groups before planning a show of this nature. 

What do you think? Is it okay to depict Nazis satirically? Do crematorium floats and choreographed dance moves go too far, or is nothing off-limits when it comes to satire?

28 comments

  1. CB's Avatar CB

    It is a very disturbing trend to see this sort of thing going on. The glorification of everything that is evil should be examined. Why did anyone think this was mere "satire", or cute or funny in any way? If nothing else it might spark a serious conversation as to why it is happening at all.

  1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

    There are entire courses and books devoted to the mel brooks approach to mocking nazi. I can only guess whoever came up with the idea for this was a fan of brooks works and wanted to try their hand at it.

    Personally from what I saw, it felt very fall on its face tripping over its own two feet train wreck funny at best. Satire and Parody are very much forms of art, and pulling them off with a topic like the nazi and death camps is going to take more then a first year student who read something and thought now this will be edgy and relevant int these times.

  1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

    Is it okay to depict Nazis satirically?

    The answer is an emphatic Yes!

    If you don't like it then organize a ban of Hogan's Heros.

    "Do crematorium floats and choreographed dance moves go too far, or is nothing off-limits when it comes to satire?"

    I looked at the video and didn't see the "crematorium" float or the women in "bloodstained death camp uniforms waving Israeli flags" either so I think an intelligent discussion can only come about if the hyperbole is left out of the discussion.

    1. Rob's Avatar Rob

      Br'er George - take a look at the 2nd video, starting around the :25 mark.

      1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

        Hey Robert!

        I see what they're calling bloodstained dancers waving israeli flags but did you notice the "israeli" flags? There is some kind of oval on the tip of the star of David and it reminds me of the christian symbol for fish which I would interpret as some kind of attempted indication on their part as christians, hence the fish symbol, that they are in solidarity with the holocaust victims.

        Or something like that.

        I don't know because nobody asked them they just screamed NAZI LOVERS!!! and made them apologize for something they really didn't need to apologize for.

        IF that was their intent.

        Maybe they are a bunch of nazi lovers.

        Usually those people are pretty upfront about that though and they certainly ain't gonna 'pologize to no damn jew lovers!

        So what you think?

        1. Norma Battes's Avatar Norma Battes

          " I don't know because nobody asked them... " They were asked for comment. "A member of El Chaparral told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by phone only that her group had no comment at this time and then hung up. She declined to state her name."

          " ...and made them apologize for something they really didn't need to apologize for. " Common courtesy is to apologize after offensive behavior, real or perceived. And true contrition isn't forced.

          " ...they just screamed NAZI LOVERS!!! " Where exactly did you hear that? Rihanna?

          " So what you think? " I feel you are antisemitic. Although not quite neo-Nazi.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    I agree. Since when should anyone think this is funny? The people behind the parade should be banned from ever holding another one, this is nothing but sick

    1. Norma Battes's Avatar Norma Battes

      It's not about the parade organizers. It's the troupe.

    2. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

      Many soldiers in the United States Army during the Second World War ridiculed Adolf Hitler by singing the song "When Hitler says we is the master race, we heil, heil right in der Fuhrer's face" and in U.S.O. shows. This was right during the time that Hitler and the Nazis were ruling in Germany, not 75 years later. There was the movie Stalag 17 (the precursor to Hogan's Heroes) also around this time, starring William Holden and Harvey Lembeck, and in which Hitler was ridiculed, too. The Great Dictator starring Charles Chaplin mocked Hitler. Chaplin said that Hitler giving the hand back Nazi salute "looked like a waiter holding a tray" and Hitler running on the street between meetings in Berlin, early in his career, reninded one journalist of "a Teutonic Groucho Marx". It is also well known that Hitler had a chronic and severe problem with flatulence! This ridiculing of Hitler and Nazism isn't a new thing, but has been around as long as these Nazi idiots have been around because people have always felt that these people deserved to be ridiculed and laughed at and made the object of mockery and humor. So, why shouldn't that continue today? This isn't dismissive or insensitive about the horrible atrocities that these monsters perpetrated against the Jews and so many others, but if even these idiots are taken seriously all the time and never mocked or ridiculed at all, that's making them as "important" and as "deserving of respect" as they feel themselves to be and they should be contradicted in that view, not confirmed in it. It's by ridiculing even things like Nazism and people like Nazis and others that we minimize them. As Martin Luther said: "The Devil hates to be laughed at". If Hitler and those original Nazis had been laughed to scorn and out of town and mercilessly ridiculed every tine that they showed their faces, this whole Holocaust and W.W.II atrocity might never have happened!! As for this "Nazi parade", whether or not it was successful as satire, even a bad attempt to mock them is better than no attempt to do so at all and it's better to have a mock parade of "Nazis" than the real thing and give those fools any more attention or serious consideration or confirmation than is really necessary!!

  1. Rodney Knight's Avatar Rodney Knight

    Watched the video and found it in bad taste don't what they were go for but not it is not right hope they rethink before they consider doing something like this again

  1. Tom's Avatar Tom

    Br'er George...Respectfully...you appear to isolate total freedom of expression from love and compassion...because while you are correct that the demonstration falls within freedom of expression, as it apparently was not meant to incite hate, your comment would have been acceptable if you at least concluded it was a very bad idea...Peace...Tom B

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Let's all get together as a minesterial Lynch mob, and kill the Nazis !!!

    1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

      They're all pretty much dead or damn near so let time take care of them! Leave those poor Belgians alone though, they've been pretty well lynched already.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I didn't read the article, and am not going to. I only had to see the word Nazi, to know it could only receive my condemnation. My American patriotism could not conceive of anything else.

    1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

      Carl!

      You didn't read the article? That's a bad look man! How can you post a "comment" about an article that you didn't read?

      I get that you don't like the nazis but summarily dismissing the article based on the usage of the word isn't good and its nazi-ish. Those Belgians that got mobbed because of what they did got mobbed because of that very kind of reaction and no one has bothered to engage in a dialog with them. Why is an "anti-nazi" "patriotic" lynch mob any better than a plain ol' nazi lynch mob? Nazis of course would point out they are the ultimate patriots and did what they did for the sake of their country.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I disagree with that, but no sweat off my back. Everyone has the right to his own opinion.

  1. Dennis Wayne Starr's Avatar Dennis Wayne Starr

    First let me acknowledge that I am a Jew by DNA. I was not raised in the religion so I have mixed feeling. My father went to synagogue my mother always told me not to mention that I was a Jew. Now as an adult I have mixed feeling. With that said I have read, seen movies and documentaries and even visited some of the death camps in Germany while I was stationed there. So to say what they did was repulsive is colossal understatement. But in regard to this display,I actually like it so that it can be ridiculed for the parody and disgrace that it is. They say that hate grows in the dark (along with mushrooms and filth) and only light can expose it. With the seemingly growing antisemitism, by hiding and failure to expose this type of behavior only serves to add fuel to the antisemitic behavior. On Yahoo comments you cannot write the word NAZIS with them removing it and sometime the entire comment even without regard for the context it is used. To me this only serves to further hide and promote the behavior this disgusting behavior. See the source, find the source and discredit and do not condone.

    1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

      Dennis,

      I appreciate very much what you've said and hope the dialog that continues about this is thoughtful. Unfortunately what you said about Yahoo removing the word NAZI regardless of context or even the entire comment is practiced on this site also. They censored two replies I made on the subject we're talking about.

      Full disclosure, I DID use a "naughty word" in the reply, the good people of this site decided it was so naughty that no one should see the replies at all, so I would like to end my response by quoting you:

      "On Yahoo comments you cannot write the word NAZIS with them removing it and sometime the entire comment even without regard for the context it is used. To me this only serves to further hide and promote the behavior this disgusting behavior. See the source, find the source and discredit and do not condone."

      I concur

  1. James C Riggle's Avatar James C Riggle

    I have been reading some of the comments and I can't understand how anyone thinks this is satire. We mention Mel Brooks and Hogan's Hero's. Today people are memoralizing the NAZI party and their way of life. This isn't something to laugh about or become complacent about. This could happen again. All we need to do is let go of our values and listen to one person saying that they are the only one with answers. They are the only one that can make the right decisions. They are the only one the can fix what's wrong. Next thing you know... another Hitler has been created. Just my thoughts.

    Jim

    1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

      Hey Jim!

      "I have been reading some of the comments and I can't understand how anyone thinks this is satire. We mention Mel Brooks and Hogan's Hero's. "

      I brought up Hogan's Heroes and Mel is one of my favorite jewish comedic satirists! In response to your comment let me pose a question.

      The holocaust had "just happened" 30 years before Hogan's Heroes and it was a straight up sitcom, one of the most popular shows on television at the time.

      Werner Klemperer/Col. Klink was jewish and had left Germany before persecutions got bad. John Banner/Sgt. Schultz escaped from a concentration camp Robert Clary/Cpl. Louis LeBeau-French Patriot was in Buchenwald

      The creators of the show were Bernard Fein and Albert S. Ruddy and the producer was Edward H. Feldman.

      The show got two Emmys and Werner Klemperer got best supporting actor.

      Do you feel anything about the satirizing of nazis by jewish actors, and getting awards for doing so is inappropriate or hateful?

      "Today people are memoralizing the NAZI party and their way of life. This isn't something to laugh about or become complacent about. "

      What you say is true but that was also happening when Hogan's Heroes was on and there were still a whole bunch of actual nazis running around in the world then as opposed to the wannabes of today.

      1. Norma Battes's Avatar Norma Battes

        " ...the satirizing of nazis by jewish actors... ", and "...getting awards for doing so is inappropriate or hateful? " sat·i·rize deride and criticize by means of satire. As actors, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Klemperer, et al, Jewish or not has no correlation with the context of the parade performers actions. The TV show was meant to deride and demean German soldier life, and by the popularity of the show they succeeded. The paraders unfortunately were ambiguous at best, regardless or their origins, ethnicity or faith.

        To memorialize is NOT the same as to satirize.

        " ...that was also happening when Hogan's Heroes was on... " You seem to want to somehow equate the TV show Hogan's Heroes with actual Nazi/neo-Nazi at the time? Seriously? Actual Nazis during the run of the show, and the Neo-Nazi at Charlottesville 60 years later have nothing to do with satire. It is the memorializing, the idolizing, of the fascist authoritarian governing of Hitler and Mussolini. Sadly anyone that doesn't understand the difference also has no grasp of the significance of this article nor the historical implications of Nazi German.

        And we now have rising hate and antisemitism.

        1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

          Hey Norma!

          You said: " The TV show was meant to deride and demean German soldier life, and by the popularity of the show they succeeded."

          Yes. The TV show was meant to deride and demean German soldier life, in a nazi POW camp,

          USING COMEDY AND SATIRE TO DO SO!

          You yourself even point out that they created a very successful and popular show by using comedy and satire to demean nazis.

          So, in answer to the question that was posed on this site:

          "What do you think?

          Is it okay to depict Nazis satirically?"

          You AND I are apparently in agreement that it is okay to depict nazis satirically.

          1. Norma Battes's Avatar Norma Battes

            " You AND I are apparently in agreement that it is okay to depict nazis satirically. "

            Again, "sat·i·rize deride and criticize by means of satire", from some dictionary website. Are you then condoning this video as satire, as in the performers were deriding and criticizing Nazism? Do you feel men dressed in bright uniforms marching in unison carrying automatic weapons are somehow being ridiculed? Or maybe scantily clad young women in bloodstained prison garb twirling and dragging the national flag of Israel across the ground to you is empowering them?

            Yes, we agree that to demean and degrade a universally hated and despised event in German(human) history is acceptable through satire, through "the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues."

            We obviously differ in our opinion of this exhibition as satire, or memorializing. Good day sir.

            1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

              "Are you then condoning this video as satire, as in the performers were deriding and criticizing Nazism? Do you feel men dressed in bright uniforms marching in unison carrying automatic weapons are somehow being ridiculed? Or maybe scantily clad young women in bloodstained prison garb twirling and dragging the national flag of Israel across the ground to you is empowering them?"

              Let me try and answer this for you.

              First I'm not "condoning this video as satire" because I'm not convinced the people in the video were or were not trying to satirize anything. I frankly don't know what they were doing and neither does anyone else.

              The title of the article we all read says:

              "Nazis on Parade: Holocaust-themed Festival in Spain Causes Global Outrage"

              then in the very first sentence it goes on to say:

              "Dancing Nazis posing with rifles drawn. Women dressed in bloodstained death camp uniforms waving Israeli flags. All against a backdrop of floats decorated like crematoriums. These are images beyond poor taste in any setting, but especially during a carnival celebration."

              Am I the only person to see where those "dancing nazis" are owed an apology?

              Tell me this since the festival with the parade was HOLOCAUST THEMED why were people who dressed up like nazis in the parade condemned for dressing up like nazis?

              If you are having a festival with a parade and the festival is HOLOCAUST THEMED I suppose that might add to an explanation about why the girls were dressed in "bloodstained death camp uniforms" as well as the "crematorium float".

              What I would really question why anyone would get mad about Holocaust imagery being used at an even touted as a Holocaust Themed Festival.

              In any case let us ALL remind ourselves of the outcome for those "evil nazi bastids!"

              Tail between its legs, the El Chaparral Cultural Association, the carnival troupe from nearby Las Mesas behind the more offensive part of the parade, could only apologize to anyone it had offended as it canceled all further parades planned in the region.

              "An erroneous image of our club has been disseminated that, really, is not what we intended. We are against the genocide against the Jewish people, for whom we feel great admiration and respect and to whom we present our apologies."

              Some "nazi"!

              Good going mobsters!

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    It was meant to bring thiis company to the front page and it did worked. In bad taste.

  1. Tom's Avatar Tom

    During WW2, quite a large number of jews were 'protected' by the Japan Imperial Army in Shanghai China. The Japs did not send these jews to Germany not because of humanitarian reason, but to find out how these jews gained the trust of the European royals and 'controlled' their judicial and banking systems etc before the start of WW1 and possibly earlier. The Japs find those 'knowledge' useful in their expansion into China and a possible strategy to fight against agressions from the Europeans' invasions into east Asia.

    Guess there were many reasons why the jews were persecuted for the past many thousands of years, and Nazi was just one of those who recognised the risk of having jews around. Looking at the chaotic social situations in the US and Europe today in 2020, Hitler's bad reputation might be cleared in 20 years time.

    For the triumph of evil, what good men need to do is to do nothing.

    1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

      Tom

      Stay on topic if your going to respond and then try to say something, thoughtfuj, challenging or intelligent instead of stupid.

      The subject of this article is:

      "What do you think? Is it okay to depict Nazis satirically? Do crematorium floats and choreographed dance moves go too far? or is nothing off-limits when it comes to satire?"

      Nothing you said made any comment about whether you felt it was or was not ok to depict nazis satirically, or if you thought the crematorium floats and dancing nazis was satire.

      If you just don't like jews and wanted to say something stupid you succeeded in doing that but you did not express your opinion about the stated question.

  1. Kcoyle's Avatar Kcoyle

    Today, it's a racial slur to refer to Japanese people as "Japs," a term used during WW2.

    Tom's comment is not clear to me, but it does sound like anti-semitism: "Guess there were many reasons why the jews were persecuted for the past many thousands of years, . . ."

    I believe there's only one reason Jews have been persecuted for thousands of year-- because some people hate. When people are angry and frightened, many of them want someone to blame, whether it's rational or not.

    Yes, freedom of speech allows us to satirize Nazis and other ugly realities, but satire is very difficult to do well. The performers and organizers of these parades failed to consider how Jewish spectators would perceive this. Members of the persecuted minority should always be consulted before they or their history is portrayed. Their failure to consider the Jewish spectator's point of view is disturbing.

    It's simple--just put yourself in the other person's shoes. Practice empathy and concern. All major faiths teach this.

    FYI, I'm a Jew by choice.

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