The world is full of risible little twerps.
One of the attributes of the British of which I am most proud is our reaction to Hitler and his regime: both during the war and subsequently, we’ve always found them so funny, so ridiculous.
It beggars belief, it is positively hilarious, that a whole country fell so completely in thrall to a posturing little prick like Hitler, who needed no help from our propagandists to look daft. […]
It’s perfectly possible – and important to our understanding of the human condition – to find that amusing, to laugh at the goose-stepping, the shouting and the pomposity, while simultaneously holding in our heads the tragic murderous consequences of Nazi power. That’s what makes the joke bite and also what reminds us that the massive disaster was human.
Churchill got this. It was no accident that he insisted on mispronouncing Nazi as « nar-zee » and referred disparagingly to « Corporal Hitler ». He wasn’t underestimating the scale of the threat or making light of people’s suffering. But he knew it was vital to remember that the evil men who were jeopardising civilisation were also risible little twerps.