Children’s Song: Hitler is a Jerk

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 64
Occupation: Software Engineer
Residence: Staunton, VA
Date of Performance/Collection: February 5, 2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece: 

“Whistle while you work!

Hitler is a jerk!

Mussolini bit his weenie

Now it doesn’t work”

Background:

My informant said that this was a popular limerick when he was a little kid in New England. It was something that kids would sing at recess. Some teachers didn’t care, but it wasn’t a limerick encouraged by any authority. My informant interpreted the limerick as simple playground fun, with people having more fun with the biting of the weenie than the anti-Nazism.

Thoughts: 

This is an example of two popular phenomena in children’s folklore. First, it’s an example of nonsensical material in children’s songs. This nonsense, Jay Mechlings argues, is meant to confuse adult observers, affording the normally powerless children some measure of power by being “in the know.” Second, this is an example of body experimentation/gross-out humor. This kind of “biting weenies” humor is popular in children’s rhymes. It’s a way to safely explore adult topics on children’s periphery. For another version of this, see Sherman, Josepha. “Gopher guts and army trucks: the modern evolution of children’s folk rhymes.” ELO: Estudos de Literatura Oral 6, 2000. 212.