A new "Hitler Finds Out" video? In 2014? What's next, a new foxtrot?
Stay with me, though, because this is a Very Special Hitler Video - it actually has to do with Hitler!
I conceived this back in the golden age of Hitler "Downfall" parody videos, but kept putting off doing the excruciating work of figuring out how to add subtitles in iMovie. Then, all of a sudden, a couple of days ago I was spurred to dive in, take what turned out to be five minutes working out the iMovie thing, and finish it. (Thanks to my son Skyler for uploading!)
The reason I wanted to get it out there after all this time is because this week the veg community lost a great historian of vegetarian and vegan culture: Rynn Berry died on Thursday.
Rynn was a warm, gentle and witty man who was also passionate about famous vegetarians and famous not-vegetarians. His books include Famous Vegetarians and their Favorite Recipes, Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism and the World's Religions and The Vegan Guide to New York City. He did a great deal of research into the Hitler-as-vegetarian question and published his results in a pamphlet, "Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover."
While it's clear that Goebbels (and possibly Hitler himself) worked to cultivate the vegetarian rumor, and while according to Richard Schwartz, Hitler "would occasionally go on vegetarian binges to cure himself of excessive sweatiness and flatulence," the overall claim of a vegetarian Hitler is contradicted by numerous accounts and records of him consuming meat and animal-derived substances.
For many people, apparently, eating meat does not disqualify one as a vegetarian. The New York Times' 1937 profile of the German head of state includes this telling quote:
"It is well known that Hitler is a vegetarian and does not drink or smoke. His lunch and dinner consist, therefore, for the most part of soup, eggs, vegetables and mineral water, although he occasionally relishes a slice of ham..."
As Berry showed, ham was just one of many "exceptions" Hitler made, some less known than others, to his public persona as an ascetic. Of course, to whatever extent Hitler was or was not a true vegetarian is irrelevant to any moral argument about vegetarianism. There is a much clearer record of him eschewing, and working to stamp out the practice of, smoking cigarettes - in what way does that reflect on today's anti-cigarette crusade?
I told Rynn once about the idea to do this video, and always thought he would enjoy watching it once completed. Instead, with both sadness and gratitude, I am now putting it out in his memory.
RIP Rynn Berry, whom publisher and friend Martin Rowe called "the Dr. Johnson of the vegetarian movement."