Felonious ringtone

22 November 2009

Spiegel Online had this remarkable news item the other day about a police interrogation of a civil servant suspected of shoplifting which was interrupted by an unexpected airing of the Horst-Wessel-Lied emanating from the suspect’s mobile telephone. This song used to be the hymn of the SA and NSDAP and is banned in Germany as a “symbol of unconstitutional organizations” under penalty of imprisonment. You’ve probably heard it before, as it is used in many movies – it features, for example, in Blues Brothers, where the Illinois Nazi Führer is depicted listening to the song from his Volksempfänger while he paints a falcon statue on his desk.

The story could be the starting point of many a discussion – for example, about censorship in Germany, or about whether the German public’s high expectation towards their Beamte is legitimate and justified. But most of all the story strikes me as an example how sometimes life is the best of all comedy writers.


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