Hitler comedy storms German box office

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A comedy about Hitler by a Jewish filmmaker rocketed to the top of the German box office charts in its first week in cinemas, said the country's biggest movie theater chain.

My Fuehrer The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler by Swiss-born, Berlin-based director Dani Levy shot to first place ahead of a raft of Hollywood blockbusters and the latest James Bond film Casino Royale.

Audiences have responded enthusiastically to the picture which sends up the genocidal Nazi leader as an impotent, bed-wetting, whimpering drug addict who just wanted his father's love.

It has enjoyed massive coverage in the German press, which has focused on the question of whether it is acceptable to laugh about Hitler six decades after World War II.

Hitler, as played by comedian Helge Schneider in the film, sneaks drugs from a stash in the giant globe in his office, proves a flop in bed with his mistress Eva Braun and wrestles with his German shepherd Blondi, outfitted with her own tiny SS uniform and able to perform the Hitler salute.

My Fuehrer hit German cinemas Thursday with an initial run on 250 screens.

The hit came as Germany used its EU presidency to move to ban Holocaust denial, racist speech and Nazi symbols across Europe.

At a meeting of EU interior and justice ministers in Dresden, eastern Germany, the German delegation called for jail terms of up to three years for the offences.

A European commission official noted that had the practices been outlawed earlier, Britain's Prince Harry would have been in breach of the law in 2005 when he was photographed in a Nazi swastika armband.

Europe-wide criminalisation of Holocaust denial would also have meant that David Irving, the discredited British historian recently released from a Vienna jail after being found guilty of denying the Holocaust, could have been imprisoned in Britain.

The proposals are supported by Franco Frattini, the EU commissioner for justice, said a commission spokeswoman, although she added that detailed definition of the proposed offences should be left to EU countries to decide individually and that there would be guarantees that "personal freedoms will not be violated".

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