A Brief History of Cartoon Animals Punching Nazis

by Arrkay

Dogpatch Press welcomes Arrkay of furry channel Culturally F’d.

Nazi-panic got you down? It seems these days everywhere you look there seems to be some sour racists ruining someone’s day. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Working on Culturally F’d gives me a great outlet to explore anthropomorphic animals throughout history and media. So after the public twitter discussions about whether or not it’s ok to punch nazis, I recalled some historical examples that helped. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, there was a huge push in propaganda on all fronts. They encouraged spending money on war-bonds, saving fats and scrap metals, starting community “victory” gardens, empowering a new female workforce, perpetuating false-optimism of a short war, warning against spies listening in, and attempting to shape public opinion and spark a sense of national identity. The military’s of the world commissioned animators to help influence public opinion during a time when Nazi Germany was beginning it’s invasions, and it was becoming clear to more and more governments that the Axis powers were not slowing down or stopping.

Propaganda like these were created to help sway public opinion, and to paint a caricature of the enemies. This was at times, incredibly offensive and racist, and it’s important we don’t forget that and that we don’t repeat it again.

We’re going to start with Animated Shorts, which were created to precede or follow newsreels of current events, often part of a pre-show for a larger, longer feature presentation in the movie theatre.

Wartime propaganda animations were explored here on Dogpatch before in “Did the Axis Have Any Funny Animals? – WWII history from Fred Patten.” (UPDATE: Fred also wrote an extended history of Propaganda representing both sides of the war in this 2012 Flayrah article Talking Animals in World War II PropagandaThanks Fred.)

“Donald Duck Nazi Episode with Prologue Speech (der Fuehrer’s Face 1943)” This one has an excellent lead in.

“Der Fuehrer’s Face (originally titled Donald Duck in Nutzi Land) is a 1943 American animated propaganda short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released in 1943 by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon, which features Donald Duck in a nightmare setting working at a factory in Nazi Germany, was made in an effort to sell war bonds and is an example of American propaganda during World War II. The film was directed by Jack Kinney and written by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer from the original music by Oliver Wallace…

Der Fuehrer’s Face won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 15th Academy Awards. It was the only Donald Duck film to receive the honor, although eight other films were also nominated. In 1994, it was voted Number 22 of “the 50 Greatest Cartoons” of all time by members of the animation field. However, because of the propagandistic nature of the short, and the depiction of Donald Duck as a Nazi (albeit a reluctant one), Disney kept the film out of general circulation after its original release. Its first home video release came in 2004 with the release of the third wave of the Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets.”

This next video is from my home and native land – at least commissioned by the Canadian government. Disney studios created “The Thrifty Pig.” From 1941:

“The Thrifty Pig is an educational short animated film released in 1941. Its aim was to educate the Canadians about war bonds during the World War 2. The Thrifty Pig features reused and reconfigured animation from Three Little Pigs (1933).”

Daffy The Commando, 1943 

Most of the cartoon involves a series of comedic mishaps with Daffy foiling Von Vulture, but it’s the ending that makes this cartoon extremely memorable. Daffy Duck is fired out of a cannon and lands right in Berlin where Adolf Hitler is making a speech; as Hitler is just rambling on in a nonsensical mix of English and German (with a stereotypical German accent), Daffy whacks him with a cartoon mallet, causing Hitler to cry like a baby.

Bugs Bunny also went out of his way to play trickster against a German, and dresses as Stalin to frighten Hitler himself in “Herr Meet Hare” 1945

Some neat trivia for this cartoon from the Wikipedia page:

Daniel Goldmark cites the cartoon as a significant precursor to What’s Opera, Doc? (1957) and a source for its visual imagery. After running off, Bugs re-enters the scene dressed as Brünnhilde. The costume includes a blonde wig with braids and a Viking-style helmet. Bugs rides on a white horse, visually based on the Clydesdale horse. Musically, the scene is accompanied by the “Pilgrim’s Chorus” from the “Tannhäuser” (1845).

On the other side of the German front, the Soviet Union was also hard at work making propaganda animations. The ones I could find don’t have nazi’s getting punched, but I thought they were noteworthy. Some of Europes leaders are depicted here as dogs in “Adolf the Dog Trainer and His Pooches” from 1941 and “Fascist jackboots shall not trample our Motherland” from the same year where Hitler is angry pig stomping through Europe.

Films intended for the public were often meant to build morale. They allowed Americans to release their anger and frustration through ridicule and crude humor. Since the 1940’s, Nazis have been the but end of jokes, the go-to bad guys for films. I always thought it was funny that in most PG13 films, violence is not allowed except against aliens or nazis.

In my next article for this series, we will look at a different kind of propaganda. A type more accessible to furries and is still a powerful tool to sway public opinion today. We will be exploring the war-time propaganda of Dr. Seuss, and some more recent webcomics relevant to the alt-right discussion we have within our own fandom.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, “Culturally F’d” where we explore anthropomorphic animals throughout history, culture and mass media. If these articles get enough traffic I may adapt them to YouTube.

Last week we discussed the History of Redwall, so in this week’s F’d Up Date, Rusty takes a crack at those pesky “Raiders” that keep assaulting his peaceful abbey.

We’re also nominated for three 2016 Ursa Major Awards. “17 Misconceptions about Furries and the Furry Fandom” (Patch was a contributing writer) – and “Burned Furs and How You Perceive Porn feat. Feral Attraction” are both nominated under “Best Non-Fiction”.  The channel itself is nominated for “Best Website”. So head over to www.ursamajorawards.com to vote!

– Arrkay