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Hitler parody leaves French bank BNP red-faced

Latest update : 21/12/2012

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Article text by FRANCE 24

French banking giant BNP was left red-faced this week after it emerged managers were shown a motivational video featuring a parody of a famous scene from the film "Downfall" in which Adolf Hitler is portrayed as the boss of Germany's Deutsche Bank.

It’s a scene that has been parodied thousands of times before to comic effect. But it appears not many people have seen the funny side of one particular version made by executives of French bank BNP Paribas.

The moment in the 2004 German film "Downfall" when Hitler, played by Bruno Ganz, berates his generals upon realising the war is lost has been reworked to satirize just about every crucial moment in modern sport and politics.

Whether they portray the Führer realising that Manchester United have lost the league title or that Barack Obama has been re-elected, the spoof videos have proved undisputed hits on YouTube.

But the version created by two executives at BNP is unlikely to go viral.

In the video, which was shown to around 100 managers from around the world at a seminar in Amsterdam last year, Hitler is turned into a fuming boss of Germany’s Deutsche Bank reacting furiously to news that BNP has gained an edge in the foreign exchange market.

But far from being motivated, many of the managers who saw the video were outraged.

“We could not believe the bank had actually dared to do that – make an analogy between our competitors and the Nazi regime. It took us a few minutes to take it in,” one BNP employee told French daily Liberation, who revealed the story this week.

“We were shocked. Nobody knew how to react. Some Jewish employees from the United States did not find it funny at all,” another employee told the paper.

“If this video had been shown by an American bank it would have been a major scandal,” an angry BNP source added.

Rather surprisingly the video is believed to have been uploaded to the bank’s internal Intranet site before the management realised it might prove embarrassing and quickly removed it.

A spokeswoman for BNP told FRANCE 24 on Friday that the bank’s senior management were totally unaware the video had been made until they were contacted by Libération this week. The spokeswoman said BNP’s CEO Jean Laurent Bonnafé had called his counterpart at Deutsche Bank Jürgen Fitschen to personally apologise for the stunt.

In a statement in Libération the bank added that the message in the video was  “contrary to the values of BNP”.

BNP said the executive responsible for the video had left the company but declined to say whether he had resigned or been fired.