Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Little Adolf With Your Coffee?

According to this this CNN article, cafes in Croatia have been serving coffee with packets of sugar decorated with pictures of Adolf Hitler. And Holocaust jokes.

I picture a stereotypical Eastern European village scene, with old men in dark wool sitting around in cafes, shaking their sugar packets prior to dumping them into black coffee, and reading each other their Holocaust jokes. Perhaps in the same way one might, at the end of dinner at a Chinese restaurant, read out fortunes from cookies.

Genocide. For grins and giggles.

The Holocaust evokes many emotions, but humor? Not one of them.

When I lived in San Diego I had a German boyfriend, Axel, who I've written about before. San Diego has this big, lovely park called Balboa Park, which has an area with international houses. These houses are decorated in the style of whatever the country is, and have food and music and crafts from those places. They were set up as a way to promote cultural understanding.

Axel used to volunteer at the House of Germany. The acronym was HOG. Which they all, except Axel, said with a straight face. He had the best HOG stories.

If you were on the board of the HOG, and he was, you had to volunteer on weekends to staff the place - basically, to serve strudel and coffee and talk to visitors. Once a month, the whole house would meet to discuss HOG business. These people took the running of the HOG very, very seriously.

And they were remarkably contentious. Whatever the issue, factions would form, and people would line up their sides very industriously. There was lobbying on both sides before the meetings. And then the meetings would begin, rather formally.

People would state their positions. The meetings would proceed along in a civil manner for a brief period, and then tempers would flare. And people would start arguing. Things would get more and more heated.

And then someone would bring up the Holocaust as a point in their argument. They always brought up the Holocaust when there was disagreement. The meeting would devolve into chaos. And they'd have to adjourn. Every time.

For example, the suggestion of starting a German daycare arose. Some people were opposed. It came up for discussion and a vote. One woman talked about her uncle who had died in Auschwitz. Somehow, the Holocaust was germane to her argument on daycare.

Hysteria. Chaos. Meeting adjourned. No kidding.


  1. I dated a German once... Man, those people take things SOOOO seriously! Funny post! :)

  2. I worked with a German once. Pure German. The word stringent comes to mind.

    I'm sitting in the public library and I got shushed for laughing out loud at your description the HOG meetings.

    I can relate so well - it's like a description of my association's Board meetings. Except they don't bring up the Holocaust. They bring up the annual conference & tradeshow.

    Hysteria, chaos, meeting adjourned. Big alcoholic beverage for me. No kidding.

  3. Wow, that's kinda funny and sad at the same time. Could be a fun spectator sport if they did it right.

    : )


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