Walt Disney’s Contribution To The War Efforts Of World War Ii 1942-1945
Walt Disney was an American motion-picture and television producer and showman; he was the creator of such cartoon characters as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. He began making cartoons in 1920. Between the years 1942 and 1945, Walt Disney was involved in producing propaganda films for the government of the United States, the government of the United States hugely benefitted in producing pro-American war propaganda to increase support for the war. Three of some of the most famous of Walt Disney’s short propaganda films are, “Education for Death”, released on January 15th 1943, “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, created in 1942 but released on January 1st 1943 and then “Reason And Emotion”, released on August 27th 1943.
Education for Death was amongst one of Disney’s productions throughout this time to not involve his own created characters, instead it used images to describe how children in Nazi Germany were raised to hate and to participate in the war effort, and that their only purpose in life was to die at the front. This short film was intended as a serious message for American audiences, showing what destructive and scary methods the Nazis used to brainwash young Germans into becoming perfect soldiers for the Führer, Hitler. There were some aspects of comedy during this short film, including the retelling of Sleeping Beauty as a figuration of how Adolf Hitler ‘saved’ Germany from democracy. This short film also provides examples of things like conscription and deconstruction. Conscription in a way that it is implied that when the young boy, Hans, in the short film comes of age, he will be drafted into the Wehrmacht to fight, and then die, as a soldier. Deconstruction in a way that it shows how a child can be taught to believe in something as insane as Nazism and that growing up in the horrible world that is Nazi Germany, kids are brainwashed by their Politically Motivated Teacher into becoming mindless, cruel Hitler Youths with no room for their former kindness.
Der Fuehrer’s Face was a propaganda film that starred Donald Duck, it was also known as Donald Duck in Nutzi Land by some people. This short film is based around Donald Duck having a nightmare that he lives in Germany slaving away under the Nazi regime. The ‘Nutzi’s’ are cartoon characters of a band essentially made up of Benito Mussolini, the leader of Italy, playing the bass drum, Herman Göring, a German political and military leader who was a strong leading member in The Nazi Party, playing the piccolo, Hideki Tojo, a prime minister of China, playing the tuba, Heinrich Himmler, another leading member of The Nazi Party, playing the snare drum and Joseph Goebbels, a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda, playing the trombone. Even though the film portrays events in Nazi Germany, it was released while the United States was also on total war footing. Things like Coffee and meat were rationed, civilians were employed heavily in the production of military products, and propaganda in support of the war effort was common. The critism on the film emphasizes violence and terror under the Nazi government. In the production it shows Donald Duck dipping a cube of his compressed coffee rations into a cup of hot water, sprays “Eau de Bacon and Eggs” into his mouth, and eats a single piece of stale bread, portraying the bad side of Nazi Germany .
Reason and Emotion was made purposely as a reminder to the general public to keep their emotion in check during the war effort. This short film was also made to show how people solve their problems, whether they solve them logically, using their head and reason or whether they use emotional reasoning, using their heart to solve problems. It was made to portray that Aldolf Hitler never used logical reasoning when solving problems, he solely relied on his emotional reasoning when trying to solve problems., which is what they lead to believe brought them to war, believing Hitler was heartless. This cartoon shows the consequences of decisions when emotion outweighs reason and takes control. The setting of the short film switches from peacetime to wartime, focusing on how Hitler manipulated emotions in the minds of the German people. The cartoon promotes the idea that emotions cannot be the main factor in the minds of Americans. Emotion must not avail logical reasoning.
Indiwire wrote, ‘Reason and Emotion is exactly the kind of thing that sticks in your mind because it is strange, a wartime film that used a visual metaphor to make a case about Americans keeping their calm during WWII. (Tom Klein (June 8, 2015). ‘Pixar Finds It’s [sic] ‘Reason and Emotion”. Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved June 20, 2015.)
Propaganda was a huge thing to Hitler during World War Two, Hitler believed that propaganda was a vital part of Germany’s war efforts. In Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’, he wrote two whole chapters on his views of propaganda, he believed propaganda should be direct, simple and clear. He also believed, as portrayed in the short film Reason and Emotion, that propaganda should appeal to emotion and not logic. Hitler only seen things in black and white, he had a straight vision and believed that there was no room for interpretations of things, he thought that things had to be told straight, with no lines to read between. This is what he thought was the key part to propaganda. German propaganda focused on the German population and absorbing the minds of millions of German citizens.
The person behind Nazi propaganda was Dr. Paul Josef Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Goebbels produced all propaganda used by the Nazi regime. Nazi propaganda used colour to give the German population a negative meaning of the topic. Goebbels and his team censored every form of mass media, to protect the propaganda they were spreading around Germany. Goebbels started off producing propaganda subtly, but then made a blatant effort to convince the German people of the war efforts.
Walt Disney played a very important role in the war effort. He had a desire to contribute to the war efforts, but also wanted to make sure that his company was still there during the war. He used government contracts that let him keep cash flowing into his company, but also protected his employees from being drafted into the war. Walt Disney used animation and other types of art forms in aid of the United States Government. The Department of the Treasury in the United States hired Disney to create educational cartoons after seeing the success of a Canadian cartoon called Donald’s Decision. They hired Walt Disney to make a similar short film for the people of the Unites States. Disney created a short film called The New Spirit, starring Donald Duck, one of Walt Disney’s creations. This carton encourages citizens of America to pay their income tax so they can produce a flow of cash to advance the war effort.
These cartoons that Walt Disney produced portray the best examples of what he did to make propaganda more pleasing. The cartoons produced made the actions and ideals more appealing by focusing on the actions and ideas as defence against the Nazis. The studio received criticism when Disney took a more serious and blatant approach because Goebbels and the Nazis primarily used the blatant method, which Walt Disney chose to follow.
All in all, I believe that Walt Disney had one of the most significant roles to play in the war efforts of World War Two, if it wasn’t for him, I don’t believe that propaganda would have been as big as it was.