Initial Research – Animation as Propaganda during WWII

To start research into our chosen topic we have decided to look at a number of short films produced by a variety of people during, or just before, World War II. Our starting point were some Walt Disney produced shorts, and from there we have looked a bit further and found there are a lot of accessible American produced shorts, and a number of shorts produced in Germany under the Nazi party, as well as in Japan and Italy.

The following shorts are where we are going to begin this project. There are also Popeye, Bugs Bunny, Looney Toons and a Superman short which may end up being considered whilst we narrow down our focus. Particularly as there is a Popeye short that is a lot more anti-Japanese than the cartoons listed below. The shorts are:-

Education for Death: a Walt Disney educational short on the making of Nazis.

Commando Duck: a Walt Disney short in which Donald Duck is posted to Japan.

Der Fuehrer’s face: It has got a 1 minute 30 introduction before the short in this clip, but also mentions Mussolini as well as Hitler and Hirohito. Another Donald Duck-centric animation.

Spirit of ’43: It’s about the need to pay tax to support the war effort.

Food Will Win The War: Focuses on American agriculture.

Verwitterte Melodie (Weather-beaten Melody): Produced in Nazi Germany and commissioned by the Nazi party but the animators may not have particularly supported the cause, so it’s not as blatant as the Disney productions. The hedgehog takes over as phonograph needle but is quickly deposed and the bee gets back to being the phonograph needle.

Der Störenfried: A story of a Fox and a Rabbit, the original is around 12 minutes long but I have yet to find a full-length version of this.

Il Dottor Churkill: An Italian one. I linked to one with English subtitles.

And although this is from 1936, Evil Mickey attacks Japan: which is fairly self-explanatory.

We have also identified a number of articles and books to read, including Animation Under the Swastika: A History of Trickfilm in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945 by Rolf Giesen and J. P. Storm, which we will hopefully acquire from the library.

In looking into this, we also found this article in the Jerusalem Post on how ‘Be Prepared’ from the Lion King has its roots in Nazism: but we are going to limit ourselves to the contemporaneous examples.