July 3, 2014

Disney's "Der Fuehrer's Face": Greatest Propaganda Film In History


Was Donald Duck A Nazi?

In a bid to help sell war bonds, Walt Disney produced Der Fuehrer’s Face, as an example of American Propaganda. The cartoon had Donald Duck in a nightmare working in munitions plant, eating stale bread, and dunking a coffee bean into water once to conserve the taste all the while giving continuous “Heil Hitler” salutes.
Winning an Oscar for the Best Animated Short film at the 15th Academy Awards, Walt Disney decided to keep the film out of general circulation due to the fact that Donald Duck was a Nazi. It was not until 2004 that it was first released for home video in Disney’s third set of Walt Disney Treasures. It was also voted #22 in the best cartoons of all time from leading members in the world of animation. In 1943, a year before the Normandy landing, a 10-year-old Donald Duck brandished a Swastika on his sleeve and worked in a German Nazi munitions plant.

A top 10 hit from October 1942 to January 1943 for Spike Jones & His City Slickers, this novelty tune sold over one million copies and was one of the biggest hits during the Second World War. Not that RCA records initially saw any potential in the recording: They pressed a mere 500 copies of the disc at the outset and it was only when New York DJ Martin Bloc decided to play the song every half an hour during his then popular Make Believe Ballroom show that the record took off.

How I Wrote "Der Fuerher's Face"
By Oliver Wallace as told to Ralph Parker

The time was 3:00 P.M., and I was feeling low. I had been a naughty boy the night before.

That had to be the moment when Walt encountered me in the hall and gave me a rush order: "Ollie, I want a serious song, but it's got to be funny."

The further information that it was to be for a picture telling Donald Duck's adventures in Nazi land didn't help very much.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Suppose the Germans are singing it," Walt offered. "To them, it's serious. To us, it's funny."

Walt walked away. I stood in the hall. I continued to stand in the hall.
Once more I was on the spot.

Arriving home disgruntled, I encountered no idea while eating dinner.
Then I laid down for a rest. "To hell with it," I told myself.

The wee small voice told me what it thought of me. It was a familiar routine.
"Get off your back and get on your bike," said my wife. "You're going to the store with me."

The fresh air brought out the nobility in me. I turned receptive and laid myself wide open to any idea.

There ought to be a German band.

The music came to me in one flash. It nearly knocked me off the bicycle. My mouth opened in surprise. There followed a second surprise. Words came out of that mouth. I heard myself singing with the loudness which distinguishes my voice: "Ven Der Fuehrer says, 'Ve iss der Master Race,' Ve Heil! Heil! Right in Der Fuehrer's Face."

My wife laughed. "Who wrote that?"

"I'm writing it!" I yelled--and almost ran into a truck.

Half an hour later, it was finished. I sang it to my two daughters (separately) --and when each said she liked it, I thought I had something.

But would Walt like it?

Arriving at the studio next day, I sang it all over the place.

The sound brought Walt out into the hall (where he does most of his business).

"Let's hear it," he said.

I stalled. "Orchestration . . . there's a funny sound in it . . . can't be made without an instrument . . . has to be practiced . . ." The truth is, I didn't know what Walt would think of the highly robust Bronx cheer. Could such a sound be used in a Disney picture?

"Let's hear it," said Walt.

I let loose.

Walt laughed.

The rest is history.

When der Fuehrer says we is de master race
We heil, heil right in der Fuehrer's face
Not to love der Fuehrer is a great disgrace
So we heil, heil right in der Fuehrer's face

When Herr Goebbels says we own the world and space
We heil, heil ight in Herr Goebbels' face
When Herr Goring says, they'll never bomb this place
We heil, heil right in Herr Goring's face

Are we not the Supermen?
Aryan pure Supermen?
Ja, we are the Supermen
(Super duper Supermen)

Is this Nutsy land so good?
Would you leave it if you could?
Ja, this Nutsy land is good
We would leave it if we could

We bring the world to order
Heil Hitler's world to order
Everyone of foreign race will love der Fuehrer's face
When we bring to the world disorder

When der Fuehrer says we is de master race
We heil, heil right in der Fuehrer's face
Not to love der Fuehrer is a great disgrace
So we heil, heil right in der Fuehrer's face

When der Fuehrer says we is de master race
We heil, heil right in der Fuehrer's face
Not to love der Fuehrer is a great disgrace
So we heil, heil right in der Fuehrer's face
-- Oliver Wallace / Spike Jones

Posted by gerardvanderleun at July 3, 2014 2:26 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Something I have never seen.

Posted by: Leslie at July 3, 2014 3:33 PM

""To them, it's serious. To us, it's funny."
Worked with "Yankee Doodle". I still refer to metro, and some "other" self described sexuals as "Macaroni". (personal code speak/dog whistle, but no one else gets it.)
Best ever? Sure, it was good. (I've seen late night reruns of it)Say, what about that "Socialism" cartoon from way back?

Posted by: CaptDMO at July 3, 2014 4:10 PM

I was surprised by this! I wasn't expecting this for a children's show. It was entertaining nonetheless. Interesting story how you came up with the song!

Posted by: Jeremy Norton at July 3, 2014 7:17 PM