Cleese says, "Don't mention the war!" For real!

I searched, and this hasn’t been posted here earlier, which astonishes me.

The Telegraph, 23/4/2006: Germany enlists Basil Fawlty to stop us mentioning the war

If history really does repeat itself, just wait a few more years and it’ll be current again. :slight_smile:

There is so much irony in this that it almost reads like a Python sketch. Or perhaps Beyond the Fringe.

This just makes me want to visit Germany and go around saying, “John Cleese told me not to mention the war, so I won’t.” Actually, I wouldn’t say it because I want to be a good guest and not offend people, but I’d be laughing inside and biting my tongue to keep from saying it.

The article does refer to Basil’s antics as “xenophobic”. But I’d think there’s still plenty of war memories to motivate people like that without simple xenophobia.

In case anyone’s wondering what the connection is between Cleese and Germany… he starred (and wrote, and produced, IIRC) a series called Fawlty Towers, set in a run-down hotel. Cleese played Basil Fawlty, the proprietor.

Here’s the summary of the key portion of Episode 6:

Comic genius.

On-topic, I’m glad Cleese is doing something to decrease tensions between England and Germany. We need less international friction, not more.

I just found out he WROTE A SONG for this campaign.

Lyrics: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-21289-2180817-2,00.html

Performance (without Cleese, AFAICT): http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5409116

I would have had a real hard time not singing this in Germany.

I’m confused. Does this mean it’s okay to mention the war now? Can I just get off the plane in Frankfurt, walk up to a random person and say “Auschwitz; what the hell were you thinking?”

He’s also a shill for PR (proportional representation in electoral systems) which I think the Germans use in some form. Doubt that has anything to do with it, though.

I think official Germany is out of touch with the people. My German friends don’t have the slightest problem discussing the war itself. One of them was a Hitler Youth and an anti-aircraft gunner. They are reticent about the extermination camps but not about the war itself.

Well, “Don’t mention the war” isn’t to be taken literally, of course - for one thing we Germans do that all the time. Basil Fawlty (Cleese’s character)'s “Don’t mention the war” is as obsessive about WWII as “Always mention the war” would be - the end of the episode clearly demonstrates that.

What sticks in our (Germans’) craw is not that British popular media “mention the war” where pertinent to the issue at hand but that they seem to see themselves under an obligation to find a Hitler/Nazi/WW II angle to any story on Germany.

Rather like throwing in a reference to bullfighting not only in stories about entertainment|cattle breeding|animal welfare|tourism in Spain (pertinent), but also on stories about the fishing industry|separatism|forests|the mobile phone market in Spain (contrived and indicative of a curious obsession.)