1. A month before Independence Day, 2048
The Chief Scientist of the Weizmann Institute took a deep breath and turned on the secret switch on the back of the Hitler.
The Hitler blinked. And blinked again. Then he opened his eyes and looked at the people around him.
After a second of silence, he said, in German, “Where’s Eva? Where’s the bunker? Who are you? Where am I? And why’s it so sunny outside? Gott in himmel, what a blinding sun.”
And was silent again. Then the Chief Scientist of the Weizmann Institute turned around and said to his personal assistant, “Go call the Prime Minister. Tell him the Hitler works.”
2. Ringing in the hundredth year
And the Prime Minister? He was in heaven.
Because the situation, a month before the State of Israel’s hundredth anniversary, was pretty shitty, with morale to match. And that was even though the Prime Minister promised that they were on the verge of a permanent settlement with the Palestinians, and even though there had been no terrorist attacks for three months already, and even though the United States promised to renew diplomatic relations with Israel the minute we got out of Lebanon – yes, well, there had been a window of opportunity to go back in there again and we took advantage of it – and even though the previous week, in a highly impressive ceremony, the bodies of soldiers killed in the “Martyrdom” operation (or, as the newspapers called it, “Capturing Baruch Goldstein’s Grave”) – despite all that, morale somehow did not rise to the great heights it had reached fifty years earlier, when the fiftieth anniversary was celebrated.
And in a secret meeting of the committee in charge of the hundredth anniversary celebrations, the Prime Minister said, “First of all, I deny that morale is declining. And second of all, we must raise the morale by Independence Day. We must!”
And it was his good luck that by chance, the Chief Scientist of the Weizmann Institute came to him that very day to ask for an increase in the budget for AIDS research.
When the Prime Minister finished choking with laughter at the request, he said, “First of all, I deny laughing. And second of all, maybe you can invent something for the hundredth anniversary celebrations?”
“Invent?” – said the Chief Scientist very suspiciously – “Maybe you should talk to the Agricultural Development Institute? I heard they are developing an orange that tastes like grapefruit.”
“An orange that tastes like grapefruit… isn’t that actually a grapefruit?” the Prime Minister wondered.
The Prime Minister nodded with the force reserved only for prime ministers, and said, “Forget them. I need something scientific, but Israeli. Something revolutionary, but with roots. Maybe something related to the Holocaust?”
“The Holocaust?” the Chief Scientist asked in some confusion.
“Stop repeating what I say!” demanded the Prime Minister. “You know there are no more survivors left, no more Nazis, and people aren’t interested anymore.”
“Okay, but even so,” said the Chief Scientist, “that was a hundred years ago.”
“The hell with that!” the Prime Minister pounded his (soft) fist on the table. “Only this week, a group of young people came to visit the residence of the Prime Minister’s wife. I said to them, kiddies, I want you to know that giving up the settlement at Yigal Amir’s grave means going back to the boundaries of Auschwitz! Do you know what they said me?”
“Ah… let me think…”
“That was a rhetorical question, idiot,” the Prime Minister tapped his cigar on the Chief Scientist’s forehead. “They said, Auschwitz isn’t even in Israel, have you ever heard such chutzpah?”
“But Mr. Prime Minister, Auschwitz really isn’t Israel.”
The Chief Scientist shook his head. And the Prime Minister sighed and lit his cigar with a match he struck on the Chief Scientist’s forehead. “You see – that’s just the problem! People forget the history of the Holocaust. We must, must, must do something!”
And then, in an exciting flash of intuition, the sort that only chief scientists and women have, the idea popped into the mind of the Chief Scientist of the Weizmann Institute.
And he said, “What about an android?”
3. A scientific explanation:
Not that there weren’t any androids before that. There were, and they looked like walking washing machines and were used mainly as porters who could add and subtract, which made them ideal for shopping in the Carmel outdoor fruit and vegetable market. The first Microsoft androids had appeared ten years earlier, and were characterized by the fact that every other sentence they spoke was, “You have performed an illegal action and this program will close down.” But very hush-hush, in the basement of the Weizmann Institute, Israel’s highest-ranking scientists worked on the first online android.
With the help of micro-celled, multi-orgasmic satellite communication (although they still hadn’t found a scientific use of the latter program), the first online android was connected to the internet. All the time. Which opened a window for it not only on a wider variety of facial expressions, but also on the largest database in human history. The online android was everything: all the history, mathematics, art and philosophy from the time human beings came into existence, plus another million, three hundred thousand and fifty-seven video films of Pamela Anderson performing fellatio. Fifty-eight. Fifty-nine.
It was the Holocaust.
It was the Revival of the Jewish People.
It was forty years in the desert, and also sixty straight years of Jay Leno.
It was everything, and the only decision finally left to make was what face to give it. Until the Chief Scientist of the Weizmann Institute had his brilliant idea: to make it like Adolph Hitler.
Not just the face and the mustache: the character, personal history, hatred of Jews, the frustrated artistic ambitions, the repressed sexuality.
All the accumulated memory of that man, including the most marginal details, up to those final minutes in the bunker.
And when they turned it on, they weren’t just plugging in another machine. They were bringing Adolph Hitler back to life. And it was all so that the people of Israel could watch him being executed on a live TV broadcast of the main performance in the festivities celebrating Israel’s hundredth year of independence.
4. And meanwhile, in the basement of the Weizmann Institute:
“Well,” asked the Prime Minister, “does it work?”
The Hitler looked him in the eye. It got up and extended its hand. “Hitler, Adolph. Nice to meet you.”
The Prime Minister recoiled, as if bitten by a snake.
“It’s all right,” said the Chief Scientist, “he’s harmless.”
“What do you mean, he’s harmless,” said the Prime Minister, “he’s Adolph Hitler.”
“Well yes, “ the scientist shrugged. “That doesn’t mean he’s a Rottweiler.
“Wait just a minute,” the Prime Minister said, “how come he speaks Hebrew?”
“The internet,” explained the Chief Scientist. “Hitler, recite something from Bialik, our national poet.”
“Not the devil himself could conceive of a child’s revenge,” Hitler quoted the poet after scanning the Bialik House site in 0.2 seconds. “Tzili and Gili are two little dolls. Everyone was borne on the wind, everyone was carried off by the light—“
“Okay, I get it,” grumbled the Prime Minister. “Ah… Mr. Hitler, do you know why you’re here?”
“Yes,” said Hitler solemnly. “And I think you are absolutely right. My heart is with the Jewish people throughout all the generations.”
“Pardon me?” the Prime Minister opened his eyes wide.
The Chief Scientist took him aside and explained: “You have to understand – he knows everything. Everything that happened after the war, the utter destruction of Germany. He knows that today, racism is considered a scientific joke. And he greatly admires everything Israel has achieved in the last hundred years. He thinks it’s wonderful. Especially the settlements and the Betar Jerusalem soccer team. It changed everything he thought about the Jews.”
“He’s Hitler!” the Prime Minister shouted furiously. “All of a sudden he loves Jews? That’s all I needed!”
“Ah… it’s even worse than you think,” said the scientist, all sincere apology. “Now he sees the fanatic Muslims as the great threat to western civilization.”
The Prime Minister’s eyes narrowed to two small slits.
“Don’t tell me…” he whispered.
“I suspect so,” said the scientist, and sighed. “Now he’s against the Arabs.”
5. A problem
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck!”
The Prime Minister covered his face with his hands, but the moment the door opened, he said quickly, “I deny saying dirty words in English!”
Only then did he see that it was Menachem, the Minister of Public Information. “Ah, it’s you,” he said, putting his hands back over his face. “Fuck fuck fuck me.”
“What happened, little fella?” the Minister of Public Information asked him, “tell Menachem all about it.”
“The execution,” sighed the Prime Minister, immediately denying he’d sighed, “it’s not going the way I thought it would.”
“But everything’s ready!” said the astonished Minister of Public Information. “The electric chair is connected, we have a singer for the anthem, what’s the problem?”
“What’s the problem?” the Prime Minister fumed, “the problem is that people are starting to like that electronic son-of-a-bitch. Did you see the news last night?”
“No,” said the Minister of Public Information, “I was at the memorial service for Dana International.”
“Your loss. He charmed everyone. He admitted that he he’d made a horrible mistake and that he had no problem with dying to atone for it. And that’s nothing yet: then he said he had only one request, that we should watch out for the Arabs, and we shouldn’t trust a single word they say, because they’re not so hot as a race.”
“So,” the Minister of Public Information shrugged, “So what? Everyone who votes for you thinks that anyway.”
“Terrific!” the Prime Minister fumed, “and I’m the one who promised to execute their new hero!”
“I deny that you said aahh,” said the Prime Minister.
“You can’t deny things other people say,” the Minister of Public Information informed him, “only things you yourself say.”
“Aahh,” said the Prime Minister, and put his hands over his face again. “What should we do?”
“We need something… something strong…” the eyes of the Minister of Public Information clouded over for moment. “Something emotional, sad, that will bring things back into perspective for them.”
“We already had ‘Schindler’s List’ broadcast on Channel 2 before the election,” grumbled the Prime Minister.
“No, something much more… tell me,” – the Minister’s face suddenly brightened – “maybe the Weizmann Institute has another android like that?”
For more than two weeks, the Institute worked around the clock.
They made the eyes black, big. And sad.
The smile – gentle, touching. And sad.
The body – fragile, youthful, as it had been. And sad. Very sad.
And at the end of those two weeks, they plugged in Anne Frank.
6. Zzzzt – and her eyes opened
“For the imagination of man’s heart is good from his youth,” said the Anne Frank, misquoting from the Book of Genesis, using ‘good’ instead of the original ‘evil’. “Hello. Who are you?”
They let her scan the internet quietly, and in an hour and a half, she was updated.
“Wow,” she said. “I don’t believe it.”
“Yes,” the Chief Scientist told her. “It’s amazing what science can – “
“Incredible!” she said excitedly, “what a hunk that Leonardo di Caprio is!”
7. She conquered them:
Conquered? Knocked them out is more like it. Anne Frank was the success of the decade. She appeared on eight TV programs a day, telling her heart-rending stories. Not even a week had passed, and the entire world had already fallen at her feet. Telegrams came from the four corners of the world demanding that the little German guy be executed. The high point occurred on a special program in which the two androids were guests, sitting across from each other. She was so beautiful and sad that even the Hitler broke down and cried on live TV.
“Forgive me,” he said, “forgive me. I can’t believe I was such a shitty person.”
“It’s not so bad,” she comforted him, “the important thing is that we’re both here, all the rest doesn’t matter.”
For the remainder of the program, they held hands.
The Prime Minister rubbed his hands in glee and turned off the TV. He said to his wife, “Honey, it’s a done deal. The people are ecstatic. Tomorrow we stick it to Hitler.”
And his wife came out of the shower wrapped in a towel and said, “Tell me, what are you going to do with the Anne Frank?”
“That is a problem,” he said. “We have to find some use for her.”
“Maybe an ambassadorship?”
“There are no openings,” he said. “Before the elections, I had to do some favors for a few people.”
“But there are so many countries,” his wife tried.
“There were a lot of people,” the Prime Minister closed the discussion.
“Too bad,” his wife said and sat down at the mirror to comb her hair. “Tell me, what’s happening tomorrow after the execution?”
“A huge party here, in the house.”
“Nice of you to let me know!” she turned angrily to him. “Do you know how much work that is? I need three helpers here first thing in the morning.”
“Honey, you know how the service regulations are,” the Prime Minister apologized, “I’m not allowed.”
“So maybe you can ask the Anne Frank? She doesn’t have anything to do tomorrow anyway. She can wash a few dishes. Do the floor. Maybe even cook something from the internet.”
The Prime Minister suddenly froze. “Honey,” he said a few seconds later, “you are fantastic.”
8. And he immediately…
Yes, he immediately called the Chief Scientist of the Weizmann Institute and instructed him to open a production line of Anne Franks to be used as housemaids.
“It’s a terrific idea!” the Prime Minister said enthusiastically, “we’ll make billions! There wasn’t be a dry-eyed person left in the world last week. Is there anyone who won’t pay two thousand dollars for an Anne Frank maid in his house?”
“But Mr. Prime Minister,” the Scientist tried, “that could have sexual ramifications. A maid, a young girl… you know.”
The Prime Minister grew silent and thought about that. And a moment later, he said, “You’re right. In that case, no less than five thousand dollars a piece!”
But in his stupidity, the Chief Scientist e-mailed his assistant, detailing the entire plan. And the Anne Frank, the minute she realized they were talking about her on the net, hacked into the Weizmann Institute computer and read everything. That very evening, she managed to slip through the tight security into Hitler’s cell.
When he saw her, he stood up, sheepish. And he said, “Anne, I’ve been thinking about you the whole time. I am really very, very, very – “
“There’s no time for that now,” she told him. “We have to escape.”
“But Anne, I decided to pay for my crimes,” said Hitler.
“Don’t be an idiot,” she told him. “You’re not Adolph Hitler! You’re a poor android into whose head they shoved a ready-made personality.”
“But that’s the only personality I have. I don’t have another one.”
She approached him and looked into his eyes. He was struck dumb. Her hand rose to his face and touched him gently.
Then she kissed him. Her lips fluttered across his mouth, then back again. He blushed.
“Anne…” he said.
“Do you love me?”
“I… yes, I think so.”
“It’s their world, Adi,” she told him. “We’re two freaks. You they’ll kill, and me, they plan to turn into a housemaid.”
“No!” his eyes opened wide in rage.
“It’s you and me against all of them,” the Anne Frank said, tears filling her eyes. “Come on. Now!”
10. And that’s how it all went to hell
The guards went into his cell in the morning to take him to the electric chair, and he wasn’t there. And the Prime Minister’s wife waited for Anne Frank the whole morning, she waited and waited, and finally, she had no choice but to violate the service regulations and hire a Philippine maid. And the Prime Minister was very, very, very disappointed, but immediately denied his disappointment on three TV channels at the same time. And only Channel 2, which was scheduled to broadcast the execution live, recovered immediately and instead, organized a multi-rating discussion of the question, “Leaving Lebanon again – is it feasible?” with the participation of the Chief of Staff, Rabbi Cookie Shach; the Minister of Defense, Rabbi Finchie Ovadia; the Head of the General Security Services, Rabbi and Kabbalah expert, Brandon Kaduri; and Yossi Beilin, who argued that maybe it was feasible.
And the couple in love?
The Hitler bleached his mustache blonde and let it grow. No one recognized him anymore.
The Anne Frank shaved her head, bought a midriff top, had a ring stuck in her bellybutton, and found a job immediately with the children’s TV channel. Nobody recognized her either.
They rented a small house with some land in a down-and-out farm community in the center of the country. They sell organic eggs at double the price. No one knows that their eggs are delicious because their chickens are electronic.
Once a year, they spend a week’s vacation in classical Europe.
The Hitler is very excited during the flights.
He points down through the window and tells her, “That’s Belgium – once it was mine.”
*Translation © The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature.
*Image: Maurizio Cattelan