09 August 2007

Propaganda In Action 4

From Walt Disney Studios and RKO Radio Pictures comes this very famous 1942 Donald Duck cartoon, "Der Fuhrer's Face", in which the tune of the same name made its debut.

However, musically, lyrically and in performance, there are some considerable differences between the version on offer in the cartoon, and Spike Jones and His City Slickers' recording of it, as you will hear.

In the cartoon, Donald has a nightmare that he's trapped in Nazi Germany, and subjected to the mind- and spirit-killing routine of a German worker, while bombarded with all sorts of bombastic propaganda encouraging him to love the Fuhrer and so on.

Caricatures of Mussolini and Hirohito show up here, as per usual for World War Two propaganda cartoons, as does Goering, as the leader of a tin-horn brass band, and the cartoon's overall thrust is to depict Germany as a shortage-wracked despotism.

I believe that this cartoon, like the others below, came out in either 1942 or '43.

Germany of that period was indeed a despotism, but shortage-wracked???? No, it wasn't.

In fact, rationing and the switch to a total war economy really only began in Germany after the fall of Stalingrad in February, 1943, and was never entirely implemented, due to both the Nazi regime's and German people's memories of the kinds of material shortages that had taken place there during the First World War.

If anything, the Nazis were very fearful of a period of prolonged rationing and shortages, because those had been instrumental in the general disaffection of the German populace by the end of the First World War, and may have contributed to the revolt against the Kaiser's government, and his abdication shortly thereafter.

There's a similar playing of fast-and-loose with history in "The Ducktators", where Mussolini, whose regime emerged first in Italy in 1922, well before Hitler was even a nationally known figure in Germany, much less its leader, is portrayed as jumping on Hitler's band-waggon and being his stooge.

But, one shouldn't expect much in the way of accuracy from cartoons, especially those with propaganda points of their own to sell, yeah???

Be seeing you.

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