Hitler on Topology

At this point, I’m sure everyone has seen at least one of the YouTube videos of Hitler ranting (actually actor Bruno Ganz from the movie Downfall) with fake subtitles. Here’s one showing Hitler’s reaction to discovering that in topology a set can be both closed and open. I think we all know how he felt. (This is the clip with accurate subtitles — I’d never seen it before.)

Via Cocktail Party Physics.

6 thoughts on “Hitler on Topology

  1. It’s certainly unfunny, but … Hausdorffs mathematics is too complicated for narrowminded people who can only think in two alternatives and are not able to grasp that a set may be open and closed at the same time. This is what the video shows and perhaps it is not such a bad metapher.

  2. I can certainly understand why someone wouldn’t find it funny, and I thought about not posting it. In my personal opinion, mocking Hitler is healthy. People are fascinated by the perpetrators of mass violence. If you think of the people who have been famous for a millennium or more, they’re religious leaders, a few thinkers, and the conquerors. Over time, there’s the danger that Hitler will achieve the kind of lasting (and basically positive) fame of Alexander the Great, or Genghis Khan. Mockery is a more fitting fate.

    I understand not everyone shares this opinion, so I do understand your point.

  3. I agree with Hitler: these are deeply confusing terms. Although I think the thing which caught me out most was not that some sets could be both closed and open, but that most sets are actually neither. I certainly recall writing at least one ‘proof’ along these lines: “If X is open, then… otherwise X is closed, so…”

    I highly recommend the original film “Downfall”, by the way, it’s extremely powerful piece of drama, and Bruno Ganz gives an amazing performance. It’s sort of a shame that it’s best known for all these youtube parodies, though some of them are quite funny.

  4. That is hilarious. Though when I first learned about topology (from Rudin’s venerable Principles of Real Analysis), closed and open sets were nothing compared to compact sets. . .

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