The Truth about Adolf Grünbaum

Originally published on Jan 14, 2007

How the recent film about Hitler bastardises the life of a Jew who fought as a soldier against Nazi-Germany.

Charlie Chaplin’s film „The Great Dictator“ attempts to fight the Nazis by means of satire. Goebbels, for example, goes by the name Garbitsch (=garbage) The recent German Hitler film „Mein Führer – Die wirklich wahrste Wahrheit über Adolf Hitler“ (Mein Führer – The truly truest truth about Hitler) by Dani Levy, however, sticks to the real names of the Nazi-celebrities. Goebbels, Himmler, Eva Braun and, of course, Adolf Hitler himself. Just the second protagonist and his wife get – ostensibly – fictitious names: „Adolf Grünbaum“ respectively „Elsa Grünbaum“. Other people have written about the absurd, anti-educational implications of the film already… But nobody bothered so far to check whether „Adolf Grünbaum“ is really a fictitious name.

The film informs us that Grünbaum spares Hitler, even pities the poor German bathtub- splasher with the troubled childhood. „Grünbaum“, however, is shot dead.

All this considered, the email the author received yesterday is rather noteworthy.

„It was very kind and thoughtful of you to write me and to have published a short text against the ill-conceived new German Hitler film. (…) I wish I could find out from the producer why he chose my particular name for the pedagogue, but I assume that I would not receive an answer from him if I wrote him; (…) Let me mention that I was born in Koeln/Rhein in 1923 and lived there until my family and I emigrated to the USA in February 1938. I studied philosophy, physics (Master of Science degree, Yale University, 1948, and Ph.D. in Philosophy, also at Yale, 1950/1951, with a doctoral dissertation in the Philosophy of Science). During World War II, I served in US Army Military Intelligence and went into Berlin with the advance party of the US Army, being stationed there in the Wannseehaus, where the then suburban Gestapo Headquarters was the site, as you probably know, of the 1942 planning session of the „Final Solution.“

Since 1960, I have held a Chair as Professor of the Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. I have written books in the philosophy of space-time, and two books very critical of Freudian psychoanalysis (Reclam published a German translation of one of them: Die Grundlagen der Psychoanalyse: Eine philosophische Kritik, about 1988)

At present (2006/2007), I am the President of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science. Perhaps I should mention that my website is
http://www.pitt.edu/~grunbaum/

Warm best wishes and many thanks,
Adolf Grünbaum“

So Adolf Grünbaum was really born 1923 in Cologne, a Jew who was lucky enough to escape – just – with his family to America, who came back in WWII and had to lodge at the Wannseehaus in Berlin, who studied physics and philosophy and who is currently one of the worldwide most renowned philosophers of the logical empirics of the former Vienna Circle. No film could be more absurd in his concept, more German and more grotesque than Dani Levy’s Mein Führer – The truly truest truth about Hitler. It takes half a second to find out that there, in fact, is a real person called Adolf Grünbaum, but it seems plausible that Levy didn’t even attempt to do that. And should he have done – even worse. Then it can be safely assumed that he took pleasure in making his film the travesty of a Jew, to ridicule him and to have him killed in the end. However, let’s assume that this director did not ask Google but just made-up the name. Then he has just one option left, really. He will have to retire his film Mein Führer and apologise for the infamous derealisation of the real Dr. Adolf Grünbaum’s history and to apologise. During the reign of National Socialism, to be precise late in 1944, the period, in which the film is set, Grünbaum fought as a Jewish soldier and interrogator in the US-Army. Dani Levy, however, who can be described as ignorant at best, the director of a film that lends a totally new dimension to the Theatre of the Absurd, plays coquettishly with the death of a Jew who is, in reality, alive – Just like Martin Walser in Death of a Critic (Tod eines Kritikers).

Levy and his Crew – namely Ulrich Mühe, this old GDR-actor – are using the well-known name of a well known professor of philosophy to spread their primitive anti-educational theory. Adolf Grünbaum has to serve as a collaborator to satisfy the German longing for Hitler’s exculpation. Since 1945, the German society is working to marginalise, to conceal or to relativise the Nazi-crimes and now this film even manages to boost the knee-jerk secondary antisemitism by fending off remembrance. It exploits the name of a man, easily retrievable in the times of unlimited research opportunities, not to tell the true story of a Jew who was born in Cologne in 1923, who had to free „his country“ 1945 from itself. None of that. This story is dismissed, as if Adolf Grünbaum, the real Adolf Grünbaum, had never lived.

How must Adolf Grünbaum from Pittsburgh feel if even the New York Times publishes an article about this new Hitler-film and he has to read his name several times there? What will Konstanz University say, who awarded an honorary doctorate to Adolf Grünbaum, when they discover how this great name is besmirched by a German „comedy“? How could it happen that feature writers and pundits didn’t twig that Levy, different from Chaplin (who, as we know, wouldn’t have made his „Great Dictator“ in the same way post-Auschwitz), didn’t alienate the names of his main characters – apart from this obscure „Adolf Grünbaum“? Without the outstanding flair for spotting correlations of the publicist Gudrun Eussner, I wouldn’t have found this Adolf Grünbaum. But now the name is clearly and unmistakably deciphered.

It is now up to Dani Levy to retire his film Mein Führer – The truly truest truth about Hitler, to apologise and, when embarking on his next film (which we will not miss should he refrain from making it) to have a brief look at Google before he robs another true story of its reality, like this one about a Jew from Cologne in the uniform of the US-Army.

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