Donald Duck works for Krupp Industries

While looking for something else, I came across this swastika-filled cartoon in which Donald Duck works in a German munitions factory during WW2. Got eight minutes? It’s got a catchy tune:


Spoiler Alert: The part where he dresses in a German Uniform (complete with swastika’d cap) and works on an ammunition assembly line while being poked with bayonets and saluting pictures of Adolf Hitler is only Donald having a nightmare, but there is a bit on the end after he wakes up where Donald sees the shadow of a figure with its arm raised and he snaps to attention and returns the fascist salute… only to discover that this is the shadow of the statue of Liberty being cast on the wall by the morning sun. But isn’t that weird? The duck immediately becomes a fascist when he thinks that another fascist is in the room?

Trivia: Hitler hated Disney cartoons — he claimed Mickey Mouse was a Jewish plot to ‘subvert culture’ by having ‘vermin’ as a hero. Like Jazz, American cartoons were popular in pre-war Germany and banned by the fascists.

12 Comments on “Donald Duck works for Krupp Industries”

  1. Ed Dove says:

    I'm surprised you'd never heard of this before.

    “Der Fuehrer's Face” was quite possibly Disney's most widely known about contribution to the war effort.

    (Disney's much more important, but less known about, contribution was all sorts of animated military training films.)

  2. Limpey says:

    When I was a kid, they used to show Warner Brothers cartoons on the local station, one after another, with all sorts of references to coupon books, rationing, women fighting over scarce nylons and black-outs to keep the Luftwaffe from bombing Toledo. I didn't understand the significance of much of that. There was also a cartoon that featured a Nazi officer Prussian bird with monocle as a villain and his little minion, a helmet with legs called 'Schultz.' In addition to these ww 2 nods, there were occasional minstrel show references (one where a ghost that has been chasing the character around, was it Daffy Duck? I don't recall— but at one point the ghost gets covers in soot and immediately lapses into an Al Jolson routine — didn't get that till years later). Disney war reels, however, were not shown. A gap in my education.

  3. Ed Dove says:

    I played “Der Fuehrer's Face” for my wife, and she'd never heard of it before either.

    I saw those WW2-era Warner Brothers cartoons on TV as a kid, too. But I got most of the references. I think I might be more familiar with stuff like that than most people because my dad was a WW2 buff, so I saw lots of WW2 movies as a kid. Also, some of my teachers were WW2 veterans (or, in the case of my Russian language teacher, a WW2 refugee) who talked about the WW2 era a lot.

  4. Limpey says:

    Well, my father's family kept me familiar with the US 'home front' issues; my dad was just a little shaver during WW2, but he remembered the rationing, etc., pretty well. And there were references elsewhere, but at some point those older cartoons with punchlines about the blackout or women fighting over nylons or the scarcity of coffee just vanished. And it was kind of weird since they were being shown on TV in the late 70s alongside 'Scooby Doo' and 'The Flintstones' without much context since the ww2 themes didn't show up in the more modern cartoons. I remember liking the older cartoons a lot more than the modern ones, though, mostly because the older cartoons were just more bughouse crazy and the animation was just so much more interesting to look at. When Fred Flintstone walked down the hall, only his limbs moved. When that Nazi band marches along, their entire bodies flex and pulse in time to the music and there are funny little details stuck in everywhere, like swastika shaped trees and telephone poles. By the time the 80s rolled around, I don't think the war era cartoons were on TV anymore in my area (or maybe I was watching less TV on Saturday morning?). My mother's side of the family was in Germany during WW2, so they had a somewhat different perspective on the whole thing — they remembered and talked about the rationing and the cellulose bread (which is referenced in that cartoon when Donald cuts his bread with a saw), and everyone who was older remembered being on the receiving end of the bombing raids, but, in hindsight, they considered the nazis to be villains (but not the 'loveable buffoons' we saw on Hogan's Heroes). I see some forms of that entertainment (like the above cartoon) are interesting to me and have merit, while other things (like Hogan's Heroes, made long after WW2) are just lame schlock with bad jokes that probably were not that funny when the show was new.
    If you hunt around on Youtube and similar, you can find some cartoons that were produced for German consumption during WW2 (presumably with censor approval)— the few I have seen seem pretty uninspired. Years ago at a film festival I saw some clips of movies that were made in North Korea with 'animated puppets' in the style of the 'Stingray' cartoons that featured menacing US G.I.s with giant noses and huge helmets who were waving guns around and shooting at everything that moved that someone had smuggled out of North Korea as an example of the kind of stuff the North Koreans saw in the cinema. They were really fucking weird… I wish I could see them again.

  5. I never remember seeing this one, thanks for pointing to it. There are some of the WW2 era Looney Tunes that I remember from Saturday morning in the 80s, like the one where there's a gremlin ripping apart a bomber as Bugs Bunny is trying to land it (using the classic 'Air Brake' joke to stop the plane 3 feet off the ground at the end). This was before Joe Dante gremlins, and I assume it was aimed at the Army mechanics and flight engineers that coined the term.

    The first 8 or so bars of this tune resemble the verses of “It's a Small World” to me. A quick Wikipedia perusal doesn't show any connection between the two, but for fans of 'Disney is fascist' it's an interesting point of departure.

  6. Ed Dove says:

    I and almost all the kids I knew liked the older cartoons a lot more than the modern ones, too, for exactly the same reasons you did.

    I think the TV stations stopped showing them for two main reasons:

    1) Busybody organizations started complaining that the older cartoons were too violent.

    2) Toy manufacturers were willing to pay more for advertising during the new cartoons they had made specifically to promote their own products, so the TV stations started showing more of those new cartoons.

    I expect almost all propaganda seems really fucking weird to everybody but its intended audience.

  7. Limpey says:

    I just love the way everything in those old cartoons pumps and flexes in time to the music. And that dream scene where the different gun shells squirm around like snakes and then hop into each others mouths while shrieking like old fashioned train whistles? Great stuff! Makes me wonder what Uncle Walt was putting into the coffee down at Disney.

  8. Limpey says:

    “Gremlins from the Kremlin” blows my mind!

  9. Ed Dove says:

    The Bugs Bunny vs Gremlin cartoon is “Falling Hare”. It was inspired by an unfinished Disney animated feature based on Roald Dahl's book “The Gremlins”.

    The first few notes of “Der Fuehrer's Face” ARE very similar to the first few notes of “It's a Small World”! I'd never noticed that before! But I'm sure it's just due to the coincidence that the first few words of each song — “Not to love the fuehrer” and “It's a world of laughter” — just happen to have the same rhythm and meter. Oliver Wallace, who wrote “Der Fuehrer's Face”, certainly didn't have anything to do with writing “It's a Small World”. And the Sherman Brothers, who wrote “It's a Small World”, almost certainly weren't influenced by “Der Fuehrer's Face” while writing it because they were trying to write a completely different sort of song for a completely different purpose.

  10. Ed Dove says:

    Walt Disney was the grandfather of the counterculture.

  11. Limpey says:

    I was thinking of this cartoon, which is apparently called “Russian Rhapsody:”
    The “Gremlins from the Kremlin” are characters in it, along with a silly Hitler and Stalin makes a cameo in the form of a mask that one of the gremlins uses to scare Der Hitler shitless.

  12. Ed Dove says:

    I'd heard the phrase “Gremlins from the Kremlin” before, but I don't think I'd ever actually seen “Russian Rhapsody” itself! And I'm pretty sure I'd remember THAT madness!

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