Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Walt Disney's "Education for Death: The Making of Nazi"

Thanks to Open Culture for posting this extraordinary and unexpected film:
During World War II, Walt Disney entered into a contract with the US government to develop 32 animated shorts. Nearly bankrupted by Fantasia (1940), Disney needed to refill its coffers, and making American propaganda films didn’t seem like a bad way to do it. 
On numerous occasions, Donald Duck was called upon to deliver moral messages to domestic audiences (see The Spirit of ’43 and Der Fuehrer’s Face). But that wasn’t the case with Education for Death: The Making of Nazi, a film shown in U.S. movie theaters in 1943. 
Based on a book written by Gregor Ziemer, this animated short used a different lineup of characters to show how the Nazi party turned innocent youth into Hitler’s corrupted children. 
Unlike other topics addressed in Disney war films (e.g. taxes and the draft), this theme, the cultivation of young minds, hit awfully close to home. And it’s perhaps why it’s one of Disney’s better wartime film.
And it is also why it still feels relevant today.

The Open Culture site, incidentally, is a real treasure. As it says, it posts the best free cultural and educational media on the web.

1 comment:

Phil Beesley said...


The content was written by Americans and composed by Americans who knew a smidge of German. But the target audience were German Americans who may/may not have been sympathetic to Germany. I do not have a clue about the expected response.

Japanese people in the USA were small enough in number to imprison; had they locked up all of the "Germans", they would have banged up half the population in many places. Crude propaganda thus sufficed.