Older Berliners ordered to appear for cremation, 1926

Germans have long had a national reputation for obediently following orders. This was probably the point of a "grim joke" played upon some older residents of Berlin in 1926 who received an official-looking notice from the "Crematory of Greater Berlin" informing them that, due to their age, and "in accordance with the law of June 31, 1925," they were required to present themselves at the crematory the following morning, before the entrance to Furnace No. 6, "for the purpose of being cremated."

The Berlin police learned of this letter after many of its recipients went to the police station to protest the order and demand protection. The police did not know who the author of the letter was.

Information about this hoax comes from a brief article that appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Apr 3, 1926:

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle - Apr 3, 1926

A famous hoax involving Germans following orders had occurred 20 years earlier, in 1906, when an out-of-work shoemaker named Wilhelm Voigt had put on a second-hand military captain's uniform, walked out into the street, and assumed control of a company of soldiers marching past. He led them to the town hall of Köpenick, a suburb of Berlin, arrested the mayor and the treasurer on charges of embezzlement, and took possession of 4,000 marks from the town treasury. He then disappeared with the money. The soldiers never questioned his command because he was dressed like a captain.

Posted on Sun Nov 02, 2014


The article doesn't state how many decrepit Berliners obediently turned up at the crem the next day. 'Oh, vell! It 'az been ze good innings!' (Potential racism. Apologies!)
Posted by Pete Byrdie  in  UK  on  Tue Nov 04, 2014  at  12:32 AM
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