The Goofy, Anti-Nazi Parody Film That Enraged Goebbels

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Feb. 12 2013 11:00 AM

The Goofy, Anti-Nazi Parody Film That Enraged Goebbels

The Vault is Slate's new history blog. Like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter @slatevault; find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

The “Lambeth Walk” was a popular dance craze in the U.S. and the U.K. in the late 1930s. The song, from the musical Me and My Girl, referred to a street in a Cockney district in London. Dancers strode back and forth, punctuating their “walk” with high kicks and broad gestures. (You can see a rendition from a 1984 production of the musical here. Advance to the 2-minute mark to see the whole cast dancing the Walk.)

In 1940, an enterprising official at the British Ministry of Information put together this film, “Lambeth Walk—Nazi Style.” The official, Charles A. Ridley, edited parts of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1934 propaganda film Triumph of the Will to make it appear as though Nazi soldiers and Hitler were doing the Lambeth Walk.


The gag was all the sweeter because a Nazi Party member had publicly denounced the dance in 1939 after the craze caught on in Berlin, calling it “Jewish mischief and animalistic hopping.”

Partisans on both sides recognized the effectiveness of this bit of parody. Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels apparently ran out of a screening room in a rage after viewing it. And according to historian Erik Barnouw, the Danish resistance used to enter cinemas in occupied Denmark and force projectionists to show the short.

The Ministry of Information distributed the video without narration to newsreel companies, who supplied their own commentary. This 1942 version is from Universal Studios and was titled "Gen. Adolph Takes Over"; it's available in several formats on the Internet Archive.

Correction, Jan. 13, 2013: This post originally described the parody as a video. While it circulates in video form today, in 1940 it was created as a film.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.