A Word in Your Ear with Jon Rhodes - July 14, 2011

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I STUMBLED across Blackpool’s entry in Wikipedia the other day, and was somewhat surprised by just how many famous faces are actually Sandgrown’uns.

Jethro Tull, Cynthia Lennon, even Zoe Ball I had heard about.

Mightily impressed to find Cure frontman Robert Smith, he of the lipstick by Crazy Meg and hair by a roof thatcher, had sneaked in under the radar, as did some bloke from Scottish beat combo Franz Ferdinand.

Even Chris Patten, the former Governor of Hong Kong, joined The Nolans, Harry Potter star David Thewlis, The Police’s Andy Summers and Blue Peter’s Barney Harwood in hailing from an FY postcode.

Blackpool, it’s the veritable star-making capital of the north!

So spare a thought for the Austrian town of Braunau. It has just decided to jettison all connections to the one thing that has made it famous, or is that infamous, over the last 100 years.

Hardly a claim worth putting too high up on your Wiki page, but Braunau happens to be the birthplace of a certain Adolf Hitler.

Last week it revoked the Nazi dictator’s honorary titles. The town council voted unanimously to strip Hitler of any honours he may have received, and which did not expire automatically when he died by his own hand in a Berlin bunker in 1945. Just to make doubly sure, Braunau also revoked Hitler’s right of residence awarded in 1938, the year Nazi Germany annexed Austria.

Given he died by his own gun, was burnt by his henchman and then his body – having been recovered from a shallow pit – was broken up somewhere in the countryside by Russians (or so the History Channel once told me), it is fair enough to say he was never going to turn up at an estate agent looking to come home.

The people of Braunau are ready to sever their links with the past. Took their time, though.

But to be honest, what really was the point?

Hitler is long dead. His heinous actions will never be forgotten as long as man walks the earth.

Braunau, sadly for them, will never be able to completely erase the fact it was once the home of the most infamous mass murderer in history.

Here in Blackpool there are no such worries, given from what I can see, every one of those marked as “notable” people on Wikipedia appear to have, in some way, brought joy and entertainment.

Even Will Watt, The Gazette’s digital editor, who for some reason is on the list sandwiched between rugby star Roger Uttley and ice dancer Dan Whiston, can raise a laugh.

Maybe it is time the town started to give a few honorary Freeman titles to its alumni of good eggs. That is unless the powers that be are frightened the Nolans will start an empire-building Blitzkrieg of their own.