by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
- SEE BOTTOM: At Fred’s request, a gallery of rare book illustrations from Van den Vos Reynaerde was scanned for this post by the UCRiverside Library.
- Animal fables traditionally tell morals – this article shows a historically fascinating misuse of anthropomorphism for fascist and Social Darwinist goals.
- “Dear Patch; This is basically rewritten from my article for Flayrah, Retrospective: Talking Animals in World War II Propaganda.“
Did the Axis Have Any Funny Animals?
Yes. Whether the Nazis and Italians did is technically debatable, but the Japanese certainly did.
(Oops! I am reminded that many younger people today do not know what “the Axis” was. “The Enemy” during World War II. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy signed a mutual defense treaty on October 25, 1936 that Italy’s Benito Mussolini described in a speech on November 1 as putting Europe on a Rome-Berlin axis. Imperial Japan joined in 1937. On September 27, 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed a Tripartite Pact and formally declared themselves the “Axis powers”. They were joined during the next month by Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. “The Axis” during World War II meant Germany, Italy, Japan, and their allies.)
There were more funny animals assigned to them by American cartoonists for anti-Axis propaganda than there were of their own. The best-known today are probably the Leon Schlesinger/Warner Bros. animated short cartoons The Ducktators and Scrap Happy Daffy, and MGM’s Blitz Wolf.
In The Ducktators, directed by Norm McCabe and written by Melvin Millar, released on August 1, 1942, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis are ducks, Benito Mussolini is a goose, and “the Jap” (a stereotypical “Jap”) is presumably also a duck (although he looks more like a coot).