Hitler’s clown? Museum begins investigating 'king of clowns' Nazi links

The clown claimed to have had Hitler at his shows 13 times and he even wrote Christmas cards to him.

Scala (Berlin): Grock auf Stuhl (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Scala (Berlin): Grock auf Stuhl
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Neues Museum Biel in Austria has begun investigations into Charles Adrien Wettach, more commonly known by his stage name ‘Grock,’ after the museum acquired Grock’s archives pointing to a possible link with Adolf Hitler, according to media reports from Friday.

The Neues Museum Biel has yet to respond to the Jerusalem Post’s request for comment.

The archive had been donated to the museum by Grock’s 74-year-old nephew, according to AFP.

Grock, who is famously considered to be the king of clowns, was once said to have rivaled the success of Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin, however, mocked Hitler while it appears that Grock was rather fond of him.

The museum wanted to investigate Grock’s personal life before they dedicated an exhibit to the performer.

Der Schweizer Clown Grock 1931 (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Der Schweizer Clown Grock 1931 (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

"It's the museum's responsibility. It's absolutely necessary," Bernadette Walter, the museum’s director, told AFP.

The relationship between Hitler and Grock

"Grock says in his autobiography that Hitler came to his dressing room and that Hitler saw his shows 13 times," AFP reported Walter saying, though the claim has yet to be fully verified.

"We know that he met Hitler and (Joseph) Goebbels," the Nazi propaganda chief, and that he performed for wounded German soldiers,” Walter is quoted as having said. 

On May 12, the museum allegedly bid on a greeting card that Grock had sent to Hitler in 1942, according to AFP.

"A museum must also tell stories that are not always spotless," the director is cited as having said, explaining that the past should not be forgotten because it is uncomfortable.

"He played when he was paid. We know that Grock was opportunistic, but that cannot be used as an excuse."

Walter had performed in Nazi Germany and in France, the United Kingdom and the United States. He famously proclaimed himself to be apolitical.

Laurent Diercksen, who published the 1999 book Grock: An Extraordinary Destiny, said the acrobat, juggler and multi-instrumentalist “didn't give a damn about politics" and focused on "success.”

"We cannot judge him on a single letter, an isolated act or one revelation taken out of context," the journalist told AFP.