Saturday, April 18, 2009



By Kevin Stoda, Germany

Ever since I first saw a small museum exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany in 1989, an exhibition which compared and contrasted the careers of Charlie Chaplain and Adolf Hitler, I have always approached their common birth dates (April 1889) with a bit of apprehension as to what would happen.

Charles Chaplain was born on April 16, 1889 in England.

Hitler was born in a tiny town in Austria four days later.

Dates and commemorations certainly due matter in the course of history. For example,
ten years later in Colorado, the Columbine massacre took place on April 20, 1999—and Hitler’s birthday had quite obviously been chosen for the date of this crime intentionally.

In another ironic twist, during those tragic moments of killings in Columbine, I had been watching a DVD of the classic pacifist and karate film, Billy Jack. In short, April always brings many contrasts—some of them fairly ironic.

In review, the fact that both Adolf Hitler, one of the world’s enduring villains, and Charlie Chaplain, one of the world’s more endearing comedians, were born on almost the same date in history reminds us all that each member of humanity has a choice of either choosing (1) to live a life of evil or (2) to live a life which brings joy to all.


It is certainly true that in 1939-1940 Charlie Chaplin, the comedian, produced and performed in a full-frontal attack on Adolf Hitler in American movie theaters as the world went to war.

The film was called THE GREAT DICTATOR and was a tongue-and-cheek portrayal of how things might have turned out if the simple LITTLE TRAMP character of Chaplin Fame had been allowed to change the course of Central European history by replacing Hitler with a mild-mannered Jew, who looked exactly like him.

On the other hand, some viewers still deny that there was any more than a moustache-similarity in the two men (or heroes of sorts) born 4-days apart in April 1989.

Naturally, despite Hitler’s claims that one of his nemeses on the world stage, i.e. Charlie Chaplin, was a Jew, Chaplain was a Jew. This was not in fact the case.

On the other hand, Charlie Chaplin actually had a childhood lifestory was one of poverty as was the life other entertainers of his ilk, such as Jackie Chan. (Chan, too, had spent most of his formative years without a parent on hand as he honed his entertainment talents. ) Hitler’s youth under a stern father was not particularly a wonderful experience either.

Nonetheless, in THE GREAT DICTATOR Charlie Chaplin played up the Hitler-lie about him being a Jew and acted throughout the film in the role of a poor Jewish barber who takes over for the right wing nuts leading the Germanic nations of Austria and Germany to disaster. In retrospect, Chaplin’s willingness to ally himself with the Jews of the planet in this persecuted period in our global history is quite commendable.


In short, this very April 2009 we now recall the 120th anniversary of these two different human beings who grew from obscurity to world fame in the early part of the 20th Century. [In doing so, we need to recognize the fact that Chaplain often had his vices and foibles—like his continued attraction to younger (and under-aged) women.]

Interestingly, at times BOTH the British- (his native land) and the U.S. governments (under leadership of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI) attempted to blacklist the outspoken dramatist-actor-&-music score dramatist.

First, in the 1930s, it was insinuated in many corners in royal Britain that a knighthood for Charlie Chaplin would not be given due to prevalent claims that Chaplain had not served in the British military in WWI.

Later, following WWII during the McCarthy era, Chaplin was FINALLY forced into exile in Switzerland.

Since I, myself, have found myself living in a sort-of-exile from the USA since 2003, after the U.S.A.’s misguided invasion of Iraq and failure to prosecute Dick Cheney and George W. Bush for breaking either USA law or international laws, I encourage everyone who can to watch the film THE GREAT DICTATOR this 2009.

By the way, when I first saw the exhibition on Hitler and Chaplin in Frankfurt in April 1989, that same continent of Europe was just months away from a revolution of change in totalitarian and demagogic lands.

Perhaps, since the Hitler-Chaplin moustache and mentality is still popular in the Middle East, we can expect a little more revolution in months and years, to come.






Anonymous Shweta Prasanna said...

I was hoping someone would draw the comparison between Hitler and Charlie Chaplin. Especially their common birthday's.The irony of them both being Aries, and most importantly the choices these two people made.One who made people all over the world happy and the other who killed people and became happy.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

The surprising thing is that noone made a great dictator film for Bush and Cheney.

Why can't Hollywood or Bollywood do better?

A cynical comedy would be enough.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Shweta Prasanna said...

You need strong passion to make a film such as "The Great Dictator"...holly/bolly wood is after all a money making venture.Genuises like Charlie Chaplin are born once in a lifetime.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can u delete my comments from this page please!!

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was Hitler more relevant thean chaplin ??? ........... Yes

9:04 PM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

You are, of course, right in many cases.

However, Chaplin had the nerve to make the Great Dictator while America was a long way from joining WWII against Hitler.

It says a lot that Chaplin's first really big Talkie was about Hitler.

5:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlie Chaplin was one of the few who did not lose all his money in the stock exchange collapse during the great depression. He helped those who experienced poverty like he did in his own youth and donated money to the soup queues, and also lobbied the American Government to provide more to its own people.

6:33 AM  

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