The Nazis and Spielberg: The Coming Storm
11/17/2011 - 18:39

Nothing quite gets the public going like a Spielberg movie.  Even if you hate his movies (not that I do), it's hard to avoid the excitement they engender. Especially come Christmas.  This year, Spielberg's big holiday release, you may have heard, is "The Adventures of Tintin," an animated 3D film about the legendary children's book.  And this year, I'm predicting a minor controversy about it.

Why? Simple: the comic book's maker, the long dead Belgium illustrator, Herge (ne Georges Remi), is widely presumed to be anti-Semitic.  Of course, that reputation has been muted by his remarkable artist career.  But it's likely to be revived now, with all the attention being given now to his creation, Tintin. Basically, the case against Herge goes like this: while Belgium was under Nazi occupation, Herge continued to publish his Tintin comics under a magazine, "Le Soir," which had been taken over by the Nazis. 

In many countries the Nazis took over, they subjugated all press materials to their censors, so that's not exactly his crime.  What is is the fact that he created at least one viciously anti-Semitic character in a Tintin strip, and at just the time when Belgium Jews were being forced to wear a yellow star.  The strip featured a fat Jewish banker named Blumenstein, who one recent biographer said was meant to represent the "incarnation of evil."  Then, just after the war, Herge responded indignantly when a friend who survived a Nazi labor camp returned to tell him that Jews were especially singled out.  Herge responded: “You mistook what you saw… First of all, how do you know they were Jews? They must have been common law criminals."

Presumably Spielberg knows all this (everyone seems to know about it in Europe).  And he may get a pass, given the other great Jewish work Spielberg has done.  Not only is there the Shoah Foundation, which has become the largest filmed archive of Holocaust survives, and which the Times announced today was expanding its mandate to include victims of other genocide. But Spielberg is also, of course, the man who made Schindler a household name.  And no one, I should add, gave a damn that Schindler was a Nazi, either.

view counter

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


Dear Eric,

I think no real storm will come out because simply there is no evidence of antisemitism on Hergé's work. Yes, once he created a character which was a banker, and a Jew and it was not a pleasant character but it was only a caricature. Before that he created dozens of characters, some unpleasant, which were not Jewish but white, black, red and yellow. Are we to assume he was against all races ? (...) If you take a closer look to Hergé's life and work, which is very easy as they are profusely investigated and analyzed themes, you will find a pure heart, a defender of the weak, a paladin for justice. As all great men, it is easy to throw mud at his name. Three are the accusations commonly made against him. Racist (for his depiction of the black people in Tintin in the Congo), Nazi (for having worked at an occupied newspaper during the war) and misogynous (for having so little women characters). All false.


As for a Nazi, don't forget the harsh depiction of the occupant to be in "Ottokar's Ceptre"(1939) in which the evil character is named "Müssler" (Mussolini and Hitler) and also "Mr Bellum" comic strip series in which the character calls Hitler a fool and shouts "salle boche" (dirty kraut) to the airplanes above Brussels sky. Is this a Nazi ? He's only fault, as you correctly stated, is to have continued to draw and publish Tintin's adventures during occupation in an occupied newspaper. Why did he do that ? Because his King, figure in which he believed, told him to do that (to stay and carry on). And so he did, as thousands of other Belgians. Where they Nazis ?


Yours truly,

Jorge Macieira

full reply at