In Timur Vermes’ book, “Look Who’s Back”, released in 2012, the author looks at what would happen if Adolf Hitler suddenly appeared in Germany. The premise is obviously hypothetical, but would his words still resonate with Germans?
That question, I believe, is at the core of the book.
When Hitler comes back to Germany, in the book, he is aghast at all the new technology and at all the global and domestic events and changes that have taken place since the end of World War Two. However, he begins to realize that his message of strong nationalism, extreme patriotism, and vengeful nativism still strike a chord with many Germans who long for the past.
In the end of his book, Hitler is beginning his campaign back to the top of German political life with the phrase “It wasn’t all bad.” And, uncomfortable as it may seem, many people in the book rally to his cause. I would venture that many Germans would rally to his cause as well.
People in difficult economic times, with social turbulence, a chaotic international arena, and a desire for stability, often seek strongmen. That begs the question, in today’s day of age, even knowing what happened during World War Two, people in Europe and around the world are still going back to that extreme nativism, patriotism, nationalism, and racism that was so profound in the 1920s.
It makes it easy to realize that since Germans in the 1920s and early 1930s didn’t know what was going to happen but wanted a strongman to take control, that they voted for Hitler and approved of his policies, for the large part.
As troubling as Vermes’ book makes human intuition seem, the book should be used as a lesson from the past in the present. He creates a unique situation that allows people today to reflect on the past, and imagine how Hitler and his ideology would play out in today’s world.