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Nazi hero and anti-hero

Tell was loved - then hated - by Adolf Hitler. Proof of the dictator’s initial enthusiasm was his decision to use a Schiller quote from the Tell play in the preface to the eigth chapter of "Mein Kampf": “The strong man is more powerful alone.”

The Fuehrer took part in celebrations marking Schiller's birth and gave his seal of approval for a German/Swiss co-production of Schiller's play. The cast included Göring’s mistress as the hero's wife.

But Hitler had a change of heart. In 1938, a young Swiss was arrested and executed for attempting to assassinate the German leader. On the Fuehrer's orders, Schiller’s play, with its anarchic and subversive potential, was banned. In 1942, during a discussion at the dinner table, the dictator is reported to have stormed: “It would be Schiller who had to immortalise that Swiss sharpshooter.”

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