Too Naked for the Nazis Wins Oddest Book Title Award

A book about three Egyptian sand dancers who angered Joseph Goebbels has won the Bookseller’s annual competition to find the book with the oddest title. Too Naked for the Nazis narrowly beat out a book about Communist-era bus stops and will receive the Diagram Prize.

The book by Alan Stafford centers around a 1930s British variety act that upset the Nazi propaganda. It defeated Christopher Erwig’s Soviet Bus Stops, Jonathan Allan’s Reading from Behind (about rear ends), and Behind the Binoculars: Interviews with Acclaimed Birdwatchers.

Too Naked for the Nazis tells of how Jack Wilson, Joe Keppel, and American Betty Knox annoyed the Nazi propaganda chief by performing their famous Egyptian sand dance in Berlin before the war. The trio were known for their comedy and usually they did not engage in political satire.

The act was condemned by the Nazi propaganda chief who regarded the dancing of the trio as ‘indecent’. They dared to show some leg on the stage. The bare legs of the two male dancers were considered to be outrageous. The Nazis believed that such ‘indecent’ behavior was anti-German and contrary to the values of the German people.

The trio were very brave and lucky. If they have been Germans, who have performed that same act, they could have ended up in a concentration camp.

The dancers were very well-known at the time and were really big stars. They were famous all over the world and this was why they were invited to Berlin. The three eventually inspired Morecambe and Wise and the Chuckle Brothers.

Tom Tivnan, The Bookseller features editor and Diagram Prize coordinator, said, “Writers have recognized that winning the Diagram could mean a boost in sale of tens, maybe even as much as a hundred copies.

“There were some surprises,” he added. “I thought Vampire Transvestite Biker Nuns from Outer Space would be the winner.”

Stafford said, “A good title not only tells the public what the book’s about, sometimes it tells the author too! Too Naked for the Nazis pinpoints the central event of my book – when a pair of comedy Egyptian sand dancers incurred the wrath of the Nazi high command by a blatant exposure of hairy legs. It was when the title started provoking more comment than the book that I began to appreciate its worth.

“There’s still an enormous amount of public affection for variety act Wilson, Keppel, and Betty. It will be my pleasure to raise a glass of Diagram Prize claret to those three iconic dancers.”

The Sand Dance:

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE