A new Netflix series called “Historical Roasts,” in which comedians poke fun at historical figures, has caused uproar by featuring an actress playing Anne Frank fending off what the broadcaster describes as “playful insults” from other World War II figures — including Adolf Hitler.
Top comedians mock historical characters in the series, which was released Monday.
Among the roasters of Anne Frank, played by actress Rachel Feinstein, are Adolf Hitler (Gilbert Gottfried) and President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Jon Lovitz). All three performers are Jewish.
Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, aged 15, gained posthumous fame for the diary she wrote while in hiding with her family in an Amsterdam attic.
Comedian Rachel Feinstein plays Anne Frank in a controversial episode of Historical Roasts, a new Netflix comedy series, May 27, 2019. YouTube screenshot)
“Everyone knows you as a hero and a best-selling author, but to me you’ll always be little number 825060,” Gottfried as Hitler says to Anne. He also says, “Of all the accounts that I’ve read, Anne, your book is by far the most flammable.”
He describes how, just before going to hell, he hid out with Dr. Josef Mengele in Brazil where “we had a great time just drinking pina coladas and gluing midgets together.”
Mengele was a notorious doctor who conducted experiments on Jewish inmates at Auschwitz without anesthetics. He fled to South America after the war, eluding those who tried to bring him to justice, and eventually drowning off the Brazilian coast.
Feinstein retorts, “You tried to break us, but today the Jewish people are thriving more than ever. In fact, guess what, Hitler. You’re being played by a Jew right now, and it’s the loudest most annoying Jew we could possibly find!”
Host Jeff Ross, who is Jewish, wears a yellow Star of David armband and acknowledges that “genocides continue to take place around the world.”
“If you’re offended by anything you see tonight,” says Ross, “just do what FDR did and look the other way.”
Anne’s character says life “sucked” in the attic, so, “I made dirty jokes, I mocked things, and through all that pain, I still laughed because that’s what the Jews do.” She calls on viewers to contact Netflix “and ask them why there are 5,000 documentaries about Hitler and none about me.”
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam called the show “tasteless satire.”
The Information and Documentation Center on Israel, a Dutch anti-Semitism watchdog, in a tweet said the comedy was “unwelcome.” The tweet also said “it is sometimes forgotten that there are survivors and that traumas live on in other generations.”
Viewers, many in the Netherlands, tweeted their anger and disgust at the episode, some threatening to cancel their subscriptions.
Historical figures roasted in other episodes include Freddie Mercury of the band Queen, Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, Muhammad Ali and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Netflix said the episode was a source of lengthy internal discussions.
“These were difficult conversations, but most of the time we favor the creative freedom of the [content] creators,” it said in a statement.