Tyrant's Head Being Reattached ASAP Hitler Will Return, Vows Berlin Madame Tussauds

The wax doll of Adolf Hitler beheaded by a protester at the opening of Madame Tussauds in Berlin on Saturday is being repaired and will be returned to the exhibition as soon as possible, said Madame Tussauds, defying criticism that it shouldn't have included the Nazi leader in the first place.

By in Berlin


The depressed-looking Berlin waxwork of Adolf Hitler will return once its head has been re-attached.
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The depressed-looking Berlin waxwork of Adolf Hitler will return once its head has been re-attached.

Madame Tussauds said on Monday it would repair its figure of Adolf Hitler as quickly as possible and return it to its new Berlin museum after a visitor beheaded the wax tyrant on Saturday within minutes of the exhibition opening its doors for the first time.

The company issued a statement defying criticism that the inclusion of the Nazi leader was tasteless and inappropriate.

"Despite the incident, Madame Tussauds will again show the wax figure of Adolf Hitler in the exhibition. Madame Tussauds is apolitical and neither comments on nor judges the people shown in the exhibition or what they did in the course of their life," the statement said.

"The figures are selected according to their popularity or their significance in having a decisive impact on history, be that good or bad. Adolf Hitler represents a decisive part of Berlin's history that cannot be denied."

"The figure is being repaired in the meantime so it can be integrated in the exhibition as quickly as possible."

Beheaded for a Bet

On Saturday a 41-year-old former policeman from Berlin leapt over the desk at which the Hitler figure was seated and tore off its head. He reportedly shouted "No More War!" during his attack. A security guard was slightly hurt in the subsequent scuffle.

Police briefly detained the man, named only as Frank L., on suspicion of damaging property and causing injury. He has been hailed by his friends as a hero and told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper how he got the idea for the attack: "I was sitting in the pub with friends. We talked about the figure and about how it was put up so close to the Holocaust memorial. So we had a bet on whether I would do it."

The doll is worth €200,000 but Frank L., who is unemployed, said he wasn't worried about having to pay for the damage. "I'm poor, there's nothing to take."

One of the most vocal critics of the wax figure, Johannes Tuchel, head of a Berlin memorial to the resistance against the Nazis, told SPIEGEL ONLINE he did not condone the vandalism but that the Hitler figure should not be returned to the exhibition.

"Causing damage can't be part of political debate. It would have been better if Madame Tussauds had never put up the figure in the first place. Tussauds is a leisure attraction and Hitler cannot be part of a leisure attraction a few hundred meters from his former Chancellery."

Madame Tussauds could not be reached for comment on whether it would be increasing security for the Hitler doll when it re-installs it, and how long the repairs will take. The figure had been under constant protection by a security guard but he couldn't prevent the assault.

Media reports said the figure had been flown to London, where Madame Tussauds has exhibited a Hitler waxwork for many years, to be repaired.

German History Getting 'Disneyland' Treatment?

Meanwhile the debate raged on in Germany about whether the Nazi leader should be displayed in the same exhibition as Michael Jackson, the Beatles and George Clooney.

Left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung wrote that the wax Hitler was a symptom of how German history was increasingly being served up in easily digestible portions "fit for Disneyland."

"That's what happens when private entertainment companies are left to represent history," Die Tageszeitung wrote. It sarcastically condemned Madame Tussauds' depiction of Hitler as a broken man seated behind his desk in his bunker. "That's just the kind of depiction of Hitler that Berlin needed. At last one can feel sorry for the tyrant."

But Berliner Zeitung wrote that the debate was good for Germany. "Isn't Hitler a historical figure? Doesn't he belong in such an exhibition that shows people of historical significance?" the paper wrote. "One really can't accuse Madame Tussauds of portraying Hitler in a way that sugarcoats him or belittles his crimes."

The 2004 German-made movie "The Downfall," which showed Hitler in his final days, had also been controversial, the paper said. "This movie was good for the debate in Germany."

Madame Tussauds said it had conducted market research which indicated a majority of Germans wanted Hitler to be included among its 75 waxworks in Berlin.

It said it respected the various opinions regarding Hitler's inclusion in the exhibition.

"A lot of research and sensitivity went into developing the figure of Adolf Hitler," the museum said. "Madame Tussauds regrets that in the case of the attack one individual person didn't show the same respect for the exhibition."

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