World War 2 propaganda (4)

The fourth and final post in our series on World War 2 propaganda features wartime humour in two variants of the parody “Last will and testament of Adolf Hitler”.

The first dates from mid-September 1939, two weeks after the start of the war.

Last will and testament of Adolf Hitler, version one.

Some of the contemporary references in this imaginary will are difficult for us to understand now but it may be useful to know that Colney Hatch refers to a psychiatric hospital and Herr Ribbendrops is obviously a play on von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister. The line which catches the eye most and which is immediately understandable today is “I return my moustache to Charlie Chaplin from whom I annexed it”.

This leaflet is accompanied in our collection by a clipping of a Law report from The Times of September 21 1939. The printers of the leaflet, A. Bloom & Sons, were asking for an injunction against the Portsea Printing Works to stop them from reproducing the leaflet and infringing copyright.

The second version of Hitler’s will arrived in the University Library in February 1941.

Last will and testament of Adolf Hitler, version two.

Again, some of the references are lost on us but our understanding is helped by knowing that:

  • Jollop is purgative medicine
  • Rotendrops is another play on the name von Ribbentrop
  • Anti-commitern pact refers to the anti-comintern pact between Nazi Germany and Japan
  • Streicher presumably refers to Julius Streicher, a prominent Nazi during the 1930s who had fallen out of favour and been stripped of his office in 1940
  • Hans Dieckoff was the German ambassador to the United States

While investigating the meaning of “jollop” I discovered that this leaflet predated by 14 years the earliest reference that the Oxford English Dictionary had for this meaning, so was able to submit this to them as an earlier quotation.

Katharine Dicks

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