We’ve been told that Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, which depicts a group of Jewish-Americans sent to kill as many German soldiers as they can, provides the greatest vicarious thrill to contemporary Jewish viewers, who get to watch some of their own tell the Nazis just where they can stick that Holocaust of theirs. But according to reports, the people who most enjoy watching Germans get brutally brained with a baseball bat are actually other Germans. “It felt so good to finally say, ‘Kill! Kill all the Nazis!’” a Berlin movie-goer was quoted saying. “Catharsis! Oxygen! A wonderful retro-futuristic frenzy of fantasy!” raved one German critic with a particularly continental prose style.
In fairness, there are other reasons for Germans to particularly like the movie: most notably, as anyone who saw the film over the weekend (and, according to box office numbers, quite a few did) can attest, nominal star Brad Pitt watches helplessly as the film is utterly stolen from him by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who plays a delightfully evil SS colonel. Still, the positive German reaction brings home an often-overlooked, and seemingly counterintuitive, point: Germans today have special cause to loathe the Nazis, since they carried out untold atrocities in the name of a people and culture that contemporary Germany rightly holds dear. You could even argue that modern-day Germans have the biggest beef with the Nazis of any group.
Well, perhaps the second-biggest beef.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.