Tag Archives: Fall of the Wall

Forget What the History Books Say: How David Hasselhoff Broke Down the Berlin Wall

By Aaron Baumgart

“[This] again proves my the­o­ry that Ger­mans love David Has­sel­hoff,” con­cludes Norm Mac­don­ald on his Sat­ur­day Night Live seg­ment “Week­end Update” in the ear­ly 90s. The crowd roars with laugh­ter, the punch­line has become a favorite among them for quite a while. “Those sil­ly Ger­mans,” Macdonald’s eyes seems to say.

Over twen­ty years lat­er, the joke might not be remem­bered but the sen­ti­ment cer­tain­ly per­sists. Many Ger­mans com­plain on their trav­el blogs about get­ting asked about “The Hoff” while trav­el­ing around the USA. Some of them bare­ly know who he is. Indeed, today’s young adults might only faint­ly remem­ber Has­sel­hoff for run­ning around in red shorts, talk­ing to cars, and hav­ing his drunk­en mis­de­meanors cap­tured on cam­era. This has not always been the case.

Dur­ing the 1980s, both of Hasselhoff’s shows, Knight Rid­er and Bay­watch, were large­ly cel­e­brat­ed in Ger­many. That is to say, not only in Ger­many. Bay­watch was export­ed into 144 coun­tries with over a bil­lion peo­ple world­wide sit­ting in front of their TVs every week. His shows fea­tured ele­ments that were excit­ing for Ger­man view­ers: futur­is­tic tech­nol­o­gy and attrac­tive young actors in very lit­tle cloth­ing on sun­ny beach­es. “The Hoff” con­se­quent­ly made his way into Ger­man mag­a­zines for teens – like Bra­vo and Mäd­chen – but so did John Tra­vol­ta and Patrick Swayze. What made Has­sel­hoff so different?

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