Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi–Walt Disney’s 1943 Film Shows How Fascists Are Made




During World War II, Walt Disney entered into a contract with the US government to develop 32 animated shorts. Nearly bankrupted by Fantasia (1940), Disney needed to refill its coffers, and making American propaganda films didn’t seem like a bad way to do it. On numerous occasions, Donald Duck was called upon to deliver moral messages to domestic audiences (see The Spirit of ’43 and Der Fuehrer’s Face). But that wasn’t the case with Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi, a film shown in U.S. movie theaters in 1943.


Based on a book written by Gregor Ziemer, this animated short–streamable online–used a different lineup of characters to show how the Nazi party turned innocent youth into Hitler’s corrupted children. Unlike other topics addressed in Disney war films (e.g. taxes and the draft), this theme, the cultivation of young minds, hit awfully close to home. And it’s perhaps why it’s one of Disney’s better wartime films. (Spiegel Online has more on Disney’s WW II propaganda films here.)

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  • Mike Lewinski says:

    It’s worth remembering the mad props Hitler gave our propaganda efforts in Mein Kampf:

    The war propaganda of the English and Americans was psychologically sound. By representing the Germans to their own people as barbarians and Huns, they prepared the individual soldier for the terrors of war, and thus helped to preserve him from disappointments. After this, the most terrible weapon that was used against him seemed only to confirm what his propagandists had told him; it likewise reinforced his faith in the truth of his government’s assertions, while on the other hand it increased his rage and hatred against the vile enemy For the cruel effects of the weapon, whose use by the enemy he now came to know, gradually came to confirm for him the ‘Hunnish’ brutality of the barbarous enemy, which he had heard all about; and it never dawned on him for a moment that his own weapons possibly, if not probably, might be even more terrible in their effects.

  • Brandi says:

    I saw this cartoon like 7 years ago crazy

  • Paul H says:

    Yet ironically, it was the Communists on the left who first attempted to accuse Roosevelt of fascism.

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