Why ‘Succession’ gave us a Holocaust meme

In ‘Living+’ the show reveals the billionaire class’ affinity for Nazi comparisons.


Kendall’s pitch was interrupted by a Holocaust analogy. Photo by David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO

PJ Grisar, The Forward

The meme in question appeared during a presentation on Investor Day, as Kendall Roy aimed to assure investors and fend off acquisition by grasping Swede Lukas Mattson. Amid Kendall’s pitch for a landlocked cruise lifestyle called Living+, Mattson offered his commentary by tweeting a crude Photoshop that read “Doderick Macht Frei.” Remember Doderick?

If you told me at the time of Succession’s 2018 pilot that one day Doderick, the dog character we saw Cousin Greg dress up as and vomit through the eyeholes of, would be interpolated with the infamous words at the gate of Nazi camps, I probably would have questions for you. (The only real defense Kendall could offer was that Mattson is “very European.”)

Comparing luxury communities that at least pay lip service to immortality with death camps is wild and offensive and exactly the kind of thing a tech edgelord like Mattson would post. (I have to admit, when I saw the “clouds” Kendall asked for descend on the hastily assembled model house, I wondered if the presentation’s stagecraft would unwittingly resemble gas chambers, so maybe I’m a bit off too.) 

In the world of the show, Doderick’s revival inspires confidence that even long-neglected characters and provinces of Waystar Royco’s vast empire, are accounted for as the series reaches the finish line.

While 1:1 parallels in Succession are always a mixed bag, it’s fair to say that Mattson is an amalgam of Swedish Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, whose service has hosted antisemitic songs, and Elon Musk, who was recently called out for sharing a meme with a Nazi pigeon-handler and replatforming notable white supremacists. 

And, if the Roys are the Murdochs, Doderick must be a kind of Fox cartoon, even if the Living+ venture sounds like Disney’s “Storyliving” arrangement. As for placing iconic cartoons in death camps, a Holocaust memorial in Milan recently saw the Simpsons painted as emaciated prisoners..

For those keeping score, Mattson’s offending tweet is not the first Nazi reference this season. In an earlier episode, Logan Roy (z”l) brought Roman aside to warn him there was “a night of the long knives coming,” a reference to the 1934 purge orchestrated by Hitler. And with news of Tucker Carlson’s summary firing, the internet unearthed a clip of Tom Wambsgans pressing ATN anchor Mark Ravenhead on how many times he read Mein Kampf.

Mattson ultimately deleted the tweet, presumably to continue negotiations — these days it takes a lot more than callous Nazi memes to be banished from Twitter.

This article was originally published on the Forward.