Wednesday 14 November 2018

Will it ever be OK to call your child Adolf?

Adolf Hitler Picture: PA
Adolf Hitler Picture: PA

Justin Huggler

Is it acceptable to call a child Adolf? Or has the name been permanently tainted by its association with Hitler? That's the question a new German film explores.

The film, Der Vorname (The First Name), is set at a dinner party of old friends that starts to go wrong when one of the guests tells the others he and his pregnant girlfriend want to call their unborn child Adolf.

The others object that it's unthinkable to give a child the same name as a man who started a world war and murdered millions, and the evening swiftly unravels as the argument brings old rivalries and tensions into the open.

Der Vorname, due to be released this autumn, is based on What's in a Name?, a 2012 French film set in Paris.

But by shifting the action to the former West German capital of Bonn, it hopes to ratchet up the tension further.

In fact, it is perfectly legal to call a child Adolf in modern Germany, and there are 46,000 people with the name living in the country, according to a study by the University of Leipzig.

Germany has some of the strictest laws in Europe on what you can name a child.

But while names such as Apple or Tree are outlawed, Adolf is considered acceptable as a historic German name - though staff in some register offices are said to "discourage" it.

Adolf was a common name before World War II. Adidas, the sportswear company, is named after its founder, Adolf 'Adi' Dassler, who was born in 1900. The real name of Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers was originally Adolph, though he changed it to Arthur before the rise of Hitler.

The majority of Adolfs still living in Germany are elderly and named before the end of World War II.

The name has become rare since then. Official records show that only 13 children were named Adolf between 2006 and 2013. It has made a minor comeback in recent years, with 46 children named Adolf since 2013.

One exception is Austrian footballer Adolf Hutter, born in 1970, who manages Eintracht Frankfurt - but he goes by the name Adi.

German journalist Anne Haeming has interviewed Adolfs for a study. "When I hear the name Adolf, the first thing I think about is Adolf Hitler," a landscape architect who gave his name as AW told her website, www.nameadolf.de.

He said that after meeting Holocaust survivors, he decided "not to use the name in the official context any more. In fact, I consider it... offensive".

© Telegraph

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