Disney & World War II: Education for Death
While I continue to work on an article about press control during World War II, more specifically in the years leading up to the invasion of Poland, here’s a look back at one of the most haunting propaganda films unleashed by the United States. As I’ve discussed before, Hollywood went to war with cameras. Filmmakers and studios alike use their ability to entertain the public to educate them, often times in partnership with the government or at the demands of the War Department and the Executive Branch.
One of those who used his company to make war shorts was Walt Disney. Fantasia nearly bankrupt his company in 1940. And his workers were striking against the studio over compensation and other issues. Needing to generate cash, Disney started making the films. Between 1941 and 1945, the Disney Studio released 32 shorts for the war effort.
Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi was one of two shorts released in 1943. The other was, Der Fueher’s Face. The latter was more satirical and made more of a mockery out of Adolf Hitler than the former, which hit audiences the hardest it featured the indoctrination of Germany’s youth.
The short starts out innocent enough with a young German family welcoming young Hans into the world before taking a dark and sinister turn of what should await if the Nazis are not defeated. It decidedly ends one most of the disturbing scenes. It’s impact at the time I’m sure was powerful.