It was World War II, when Edward, a British joke writer, creates the funniest joke in the world and then dies laughing. His horrified mother, enters, clutching her chest and sobbing. Carefully taking the crumpled paper from his hand, she reads it, then falls over the desk, laughing hysterically, and dies. Further unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the joke are made.
It is finally retrieved by the British Army, and after careful testing, the joke is translated into German for use on the battlefield by soldiers who do not speak German; not understanding what they are saying is the only way to survive the joke. The team of translators tasked with translating it to German survive their assignment only by translating a single word per person. (One translator saw two words and had to spend several weeks in hospital. But other than that, there were no problems.)
The nonsensical German “translation” of the joke (including words that are inauthentic German):
Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! … Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput.
The Germans formulate a counter-joke, which is translated into English and played over the radio to London, but with no success.
The joke is finally put to rest when “peace broke out.” It is buried, and left under a monument bearing the inscription “To the Unknown Joke” (as compared with the British Unknown Warrior or the Unknown Soldier).