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Streets Of London: ‘Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Euro!

From the Streets Of London with Malcolm Aitken*

‘Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Euro!

‘Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Fuhrer!’ (one people, one empire, one leader)

Adolf Hitler, Nazi dictator, late 1930s.


Rik Mayall as Adolf Hitler
Photo Credit: orangeneko.com Rik Mayall News Page

‘Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Euro!’ (one people, one empire, one European currency)

Rik Mayall, British actor, July 2002.

An anti-Euro campaign film featuring a mock Adolf Hitler declaring his support for a Europe united under one currency has caused outrage in Britain, particularly angering Jewish and war veterans leaders.

In a one-and-a-half minute film intended for public release in cinemas next week, actor Rik Mayall of the Young Ones, Bottom and the New Statesman fame reportedly appears dressed in a Nazi uniform. Mayall raises his right arm and yells out his lines: ‘Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Euro!’ This is an obvious reference to the Nazi mantra declaring Germans and Austrians united under Hitler’s leadership. Seconds later the actor reappears saying in English: ‘The Euro, yes please’.

The film would offend relatives of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust. ‘[and] it is bound to cause offence to all those who experienced at first hand the evils of the Third Reich. We are surprised that the celebrity figures [in the film] are prepared to endorse such disrespect to all those who suffered under the Nazi regime and their families,’ says the Board of Deputies of British Jews director-general, Neville Nagler. Veteran’s representative Bob Morgan says: ‘It is in appalling taste to compare the modern EU to Nazi Germany.’

House of Commons MPs from across the political spectrum have tabled a motion condemning the ‘offensive and inappropriate’ film, and Jewish organizations have called for it to be scrapped.

Anti-Euro campaigners have pointed out that Mayall’s offending cameo, which reportedly lasts a few seconds, takes up a fraction of the 90-second film. Moreover, anti-Euro Labour MP and former sports minister Kate Hoey who also appears in it says: ‘anyone who does not laugh at the film needs to get a life’.

Also appearing in the film are comedians Harry Enfield and Vic Reeves, and Bob Geldof. The controversy surrounding Mayall’s part will probably be injurious to a campaign attempting to portray the No camp as a place for young dynamic, outward-looking people, distancing itself from the image of Little Englanders and people who strongly dislike foreigners and ‘want to put the great back into Great Britain’.

Pro-Euro campaigners, advancing their case with some difficulty in a predominantly anti-Euro Britain have been quick to capitalize on the No camp’s perceived gaffe. Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, former EU commission president says: it sounds as though the No campaigners may be just as helpful to the Yes vote as they were in the 1975 [EU entry] referendum.’

The No camp has also been accused of appealing to anti-German prejudice. Prime Minister Tony Blair says: ‘ I think it is a shame if the anti-euro campaign wants to base itself on a view of Europe that is over half a century out of date.’

The Blair government still insists if the economic conditions are right it will hold a referendum on the single currency.

Steering away from controversy, Mayall will soon star in a new ITV series Believe Nothing, as a Oxford don who’s called upon to save the world…his name: Adonis Cnut.

- Malcolm Aitken is a freelance journalist. He can be contacted at MTFAitken@aol.com

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