A License to Laugh German Carnival Pokes Fun at Hitler, Bush and the Mullahs

Hitler, Bush and the Mullahs have one thing in common: they're represented as effigies at the Düsseldorf carnival. On Rose Monday, costumed revelers cheered on the parade which pokes fun at everyone and everything.

Once a year, the Germans show off their humorous side: dressed up with wigs, masks and costumes, they flock to their local carnival parade to get madly drunk and sing along to carnival chansons à la "I need more beer." Those who want the real deal go to the Rhineland where cities like Cologne or Düsseldorf have become carnival mecca.

While Cologne is undoubtedly the number one in the fun league when it comes to numbers -- up to 1 million revelers were expected for the Rose Monday parade -- the Düsseldorf carnival has earned much admiration for its politically incorrect spirit. This year's parade is themed "Düsseldorf's foolish illusions."

Effigies of Hitler relieving himself or George Bush smelling the armpit of Iranian leader Ahmadinejad -- the float is dubbed "Achsel (the German word for 'armpit') of evil" -- demonstrate Düsseldorf's high art of poking fun.

German politicians and celebrities are also paraded by the German jesters. Chancellor Merkel makes an appearance in a bathing suit and as a weasel licking the head of her vice chanceller Müntefering on two floats at Cologne carnival. Cyclist Jan Ullrich -- under suspicion of doping -- is another countryman who had been remodeled as an effigy.

The usual suspects of clowns, hippies and cowboys tend to dominate among those gathered to watch the parade. However, some carnival-goers exhibit real creativity with their costumes and dressed up as unusual objects: Christmas trees and toothpaste tubes alike march their way through Germany's streets, singing of their need for more beer. Must be hot in those costumes.



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