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Nazi Grandpa

"I'll never forgive the Nazis for what they did to my grandfather in Dachau: twelve years he was manning that machine-gun tower, and not promoted once!"
Bad joke

That kindly old European man who lives at the end of the street, who tends his garden and waves at you with a smile when you walk by? Yeah. Seems he has a Dark Secret. Back during World War II he was a card-carrying member of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei and a fervent supporter of Adolf Hitler and all the man stood for.

But that was then. Now? Now he's an old, and very bitter, Nazi.

If they're living incognito in some other country (usually the United States), it's not uncommon for them to be the target of Nazi Hunters who have found out his true identity.

A very specific Sub-Trope of Grumpy Old Man. Married to the Racist Grandma. Related to Retired Monster.

For obvious reasons, evolved into a Stock Character in German Media, in serious works, but often also played for laughs, where the joke is for example that he seems to be oblivious to the fact that his attitude isn't acceptable at all in mainstream society anymore. See also Racist Grandma.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In one Black Lagoon arc, the crew gets hired by a Spanish salvage company to loot an old Nazi submarine in international waters before any of the nearby nations can lay a solid claim to it. The owner of the salvage company turns out to be an old SS officer, who wanted to use the crew for a plan as a Secret Test of Character for some of his subordinates. Dutch is slightly less than pleased to discover this.

    Comicbooks 
  • In J. Michael Straczynski's The Twelve maxi-series, The Witness is kept in suspended animation from World War II until being revived in the present day. Several weeks after being revived, he hunts down a very old man in New York, whom he knows was a guard at Auschwitz. And he kills him.
  • Tiegel's grandpa in Hitman is fairly senile and makes no secret of his past and politics. Despite the fact that his daughter-in-law and granddaughter are black.
  • The 80s revival of the Peacemaker rewrote the lead character's backstory so that his father was a Nazi war criminal who escaped prosecution and lived for decades under an assumed name. He (the father) killed himself the moment his secret came to light, and his family changed their name from Schmidt to Smith to distance themselves from him.

    Film 
  • Dr. Christian Szell from the film Marathon Man, a grandfatherly old dentist who pats little kids on the head if they are brave in his office. He was once known as the "White Angel of Death" when he worked as a torturer at Auschwitz, and just because he's old and grandfatherly now doesn't mean he's lost any of his old skills.
  • The German film Night of the Living Dorks has one of the main trio get a luger from his Nazi grandpa.
  • Music Box is about a female lawyer successfully defending her own father against charges that he was a war criminal and a Nazi during World War II. She simply cannot believe that the kindly, friendly man she grew up loving could be a monster who systematically murdered Jews and Gypsies. At the end of the film, she finds previously unknown, but indisputable, proof that her father actually was a war criminal and a Nazi... and she just helped him escape prosecution. She ends up sending the incriminating photos to the government prosecutor who she just defeated, who has them published in the newspaper. Scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas loosely based this story on his own life, and on the shock he went through when he discovered that his own father had been an enthusiastic Nazi during World War II.
  • Apt Pupil, the film adaptation of the Stephen King story (see below), starring Ian McKellen.
  • Subverted in The Monster Squad. The main characters believe that the scary German guy living down the street is one of these, but it turns out he's a Holocaust survivor.
  • In the Israeli film Walk on Water, the Mossad agent Eyal must find Alfred Himmelman, an aging Nazi war criminal and get him "before God does". In order to track down the old man, Eyal poses as a tour guide and befriends the Nazi's adult grandchildren, Axel and Pia.
  • Von Geisler in Frontier(s) is the head of a family of Nazi cannibals.
  • Dr. Mortner from the James Bond movie A View to a Kill. Ironically, Max Zorin, the (now-grown-up) Aryan test-tube baby he raised, is no racist (but still very, very evil).
  • Sebastian Shaw in X-Men: First Class, although his mutant powers ensure he doesn't look like anybody's grandpa.

    Jokes 
  • There is a whole genre of Russian/Soviet jokes where the premise is the following: a boy accidentally discovers that his grandpa was a Nazi collaborator, and Hilarity Ensues. For example:
    History teacher: "Tell us, where did your grandpa serve during the war?"
    Boy: "In the Electrical Engineering Corps!"
    History teacher: "Did he tell you about his service?"
    Boy: "No, but I found his helmet with two lightning boltsnote  that he'd hidden in the attic!"
    • And a similar one:
    I don't like to talk about the war because my father died in a concentration camp. He got drunk and fell from a watch tower.

    Literature 
  • Arthur Denker in Stephen King's Apt Pupil (real name Kurt Dussander). He pretends to be a German emigrant who fought in the army during the war; he was actually the commander of a minor concentration camp.
  • Spoofed in The Onion's Our Dumb World. Apparently, Argentina is ''filled'' with old Nazis who will not shut up about that one time they killed a little Jewish girl with the butt of their rifle, much to their grandchildren's annoyance.
  • Also spoofed in I Am America (And So Can You!) in the chapter about family. The grandmother is identified as someone not to ask about, since "Grandpa brought her back from the war, and she might be a Nazi."
  • Sort of happens in Stephen Fry's Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act novel Making History. The gentle old German scientist who wants to go back and prevent the Holocaust wasn't a Nazi himself, but we're led to believe he's a Jewish survivor until it turns out the reason It's Personal is that his father was in the S.S. and he feels guilty.
  • Invoked in the Illuminatus!-trilogy, as George Dorn bumps into an old man in Ingolstadt who curses at him with all kinds of politically incorrect slurs, but he can't bring himself to be offended since the man feels like a relic of the past, rather than anyone to be taken seriously. It's actually Adolf Hitler himself, returned to Germany to receive his promised reward from the Illuminati.
  • In Gentle Hands, the plot increasingly focuses on whether the protagonist's grandfather is the titular Nazi He is.
  • The Jodi Picoult novel The Storyteller revolves around an elderly man who is a fixture in his community, who confesses to the protagonist that he was a Nazi who served at Auschwitz during the war.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dennis and Dee's grandfather was a Nazi in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
    • Being who they are, Dennis and Dee attempt to exploit it for profit.
  • An elderly man suspected of being an SS officer ends up being a murder suspect in Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
    • The original series went to this well a few times as well, in "Night and Fog" (where the culprit was actually a Jewish man who'd collaborated with the Nazis and killed his Holocaust victim wife when she found out) and "Evil Breeds" (where a Holocaust survivor is testifying in a federal war crimes investigation against a suspected Nazi war criminal, but gets killed by the manager of a "hate rock" act who's trying to exploit the criminal's rep for sales).
  • A similar thing happens in CSI: NY. An antique dealer with Nazi sympathies is murdered. It turns out his killer was a concentration camp guard who had escaped prosecution by pretending to be Jewish after the war was over (going as far as to put a fake "serial number" tattoo on his arm).
    • The old concentration camp guard posing as a Jew also showed up in another Bruckheimer show, Cold Case. Both were likely inspired by the case of Elfriede Rinkel.
  • Similarly, in one episode of Magnum, P.I., there was a Nazi couple hiding in Hawaii disguised as Jews.
  • Dr. Krieg in The Pretender episode "Hazards".
  • It becomes clear from some of his comments that Dwight's grandfather in The Office fought on the side of Germany during World War II and was probably a war criminal and not just an average soldier.
    "I tried to go visit him once, but my travel visa was protested by the Shoah Foundation."note 
  • Opa Adolf Frey, from the recurring segment Was Der Großvater Noch Wusste (What Grandpa Still Did Know), of the German Sketch Comedy Die Wochenshow is implied to be one.
  • In the German Sitcom Pastewka, Bastian's brother acquires a foosball table on eBay, and they have to drive out to the seller's house, in order to get it and take it home. Said seller is an old man who seems to be nostalgic for the Third Reich: His house is filled to the brim with war memorabilia, his most precious one being the handkerchief of the Führer himself.
  • in Son Of The Beach german character Chip Rommel has an antique diamond ring. "It voz mein grandfather's. He collected jewellery during the war."
  • In an episode of FlashForward (2009), there is an old convicted Nazi in a prison in Munich, who claims to have important information about the Blackout, and offers it to the Mosaic Team in exchange for his release. Too late it turns out that they have been tricked by him, and this info isn't that important after all. Or is it?
  • The grandpa in the sketch "Weihnachten bei Hoppenstedts" by German comedian Loriot may have traces of this, considering how he insists on playing his military marches on full volume - at Christmas Eve! Though to be fair, because this sketch is from 1978, it is quite possible that he is merely a Monarchist Grandpa, feeling nostalgia for the good old times of the Kaiser's reign, which were just 60 years ago, back then.
  • An episode of Barney Miller has a Romani man apparently harassing an elderly prank shop owner. Turns out the prank shop owner was a guard at a concentration camp who tormented him.
  • In 30 Rock, Jack once remembered that his kindly German teacher who was obsessed with classifying people got kidnapped by Israeli commandos.
  • In El Internado, there are several Nazi old men that managed to escape justice when World War II ended by hiding in Spain. In fact, Iván's adoptive grandfather, as well as Marcos and Paula's grandfather (who put his daughter Eva to the illness he developed, and then cloned her twice, which resulted in Irene/Sandra, whom he adopted when she was five, and Paula, who became Sandra's daughter) were two of those high-ranking Nazis.
  • One of these is the Asshole Victim in a certain sketch of 1000 Ways to Die ("Master E-Raced"). He was shot in the head and survived, but the bullet was stuck inside and located near a major artery. Fifty years later, the former Nazi (now living in New York City) accidentally bumps his head while getting milk from his refrigerator. The bullet finally hits its target and the Kraut goes kaput.

    Webcomics 
  • In Scary Go Round, the professor who accompanies Shelley, Amy and Desmond during their journey to Atlantis is implied to be one.
    Shelley: "Gosh, it's like they took a Nazi war criminal and pressed him like a flower!"
  • In a Biter Comics strip, A prospective job candidate learns his new boss may at the very least be a nazi sympathizer.

    Western Animation 
  • Grandpa Nazi is a recurring sketch in Monkey Dust.
  • "German Guy," an episode of Family Guy dealt with this subject, featuring a kindly old German man named Franz Gutentag who befriends Chris before pedophile neighbor Herbert recognizes Franz as a Nazi who put him in a concentration camp for not being gay. Herbert and Franz face off in a Slow Motion fight of Grey and Gray Morality (is the audience supposed to root for the pedophile or the Nazi)?
  • Krieger from Archer has a pretty significant Nazi dad. He's one of The Boys from Brazil. (Oddly enough, he already knew he had been raised by Nazis.) It's even implied he may be a clone of Hitler (or at least some kind of genetic relative).
  • In the first series satirical UK puppet show Spitting Image Mrs Thatcher's elderly neighbour, Herr Jeremy Von Wilcox, who lived at No. 9 Downing Street, was actually Adolf Hitler.

    Real Life 
  • Most Germans of the post-war generations have to deal with this within their own family. In (luckily quite rare) cases where the old people in question don't show any sign of remorse and still openly self-identify as Nazis, they are called Alt-Nazis (old-Nazis, in order to differentiate them from the neo-Nazis) or Unverbesserliche (roughly unreformables).
    • Gudrun Burwitz, born in 1929 as Gudrun Himmler and daughter of Heinrich Himmler, and mother of two, has been a leading figure in German neo-Nazi movements her entire life.
  • After the war, many Nazis did hide in Argentina for many years, the most notorious case being Adolf Eichmann, kidnapped by the Mossad in 1960, who became the only person so far executed by Israel.
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement maintains a special unit dedicated to finding fugitive war criminals who have managed to immigrate to the US as war "refugees." Occasionally they will find individuals who naturalized and built lives in America, concealing their wartime experiences from their own family.
  • Normally, German citizens can enter Israel without a visa - but not if they were born before 1928.
  • In April 2013, now deceased German actor Horst Tappert, who played the title character in the popular long-running detective series Derrick, was discovered to have been a member the Waffen-SS in World War II. In his lifetime, he had always claimed to have served as a medic in the Wehrmacht. Reruns of the series were promptly pulled of the German and Dutch public channels.
  • In 2006, Günter Grass, author of The Tin Drum, revealed that he has been a member of the Waffen-SS at the age of 17. This caused quite some stir, because until then he was regarded by many to be sort of Germany's conscience regarding the country's Nazi past.
  • Amon Goeth, a brutal concentration camp director of Schindler's List infamy, has a half-black granddaughter, Jennifer Teege, through his daughter Monika. She has written a book My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me.


Miniature Senior CitizensEldersNever Mess with Granny
Nazi GoldReichstropenNazi Hunter
A Nazi by Any Other NameVillainsNazi Protagonist
The NavigatorCharacters as DeviceNazi Nobleman

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