Donald Duck and his Anti-Nazi Propaganda Campaign

By Nicole Fennig

As I walked into the Caen Memorial Museum, I saw one of my favorite childhood characters depicted in an exceptionally shocking way; Donald Duck was portrayed as a Nazi Sympathizer and even shown as another version of Hitler. This may seem all out of whack. However, the abnormal depiction of Donald Duck was simply for propaganda purposes. 

Der Fuehrer’s Face (1943) was Disney’s most popular wartime propaganda short, depicting Donald Duck living in Nazi Germany. The satirical cartoon follows Donald throughout his day working as a member of the Nazi regime. The film uses exaggerated humor in order to deride Hitler’s Regime as it portrays the absolute absurdity that could be found within the Third Reich. Whether it was working for 48 hours a day to appease the Fuhrer or constantly saluting every picture of Hitler he saw, the whole point of the film was to show how Donald Duck was stuck in the nightmare that was Nazi Germany. 

The military enlisted Disney after the attack on Pearl Harbor to make training videos, educational films, and propaganda to help with the war effort. The animations tended to focus on aspects of patriotism while also attempting to villainize the country’s wartime enemies. 

The use and study of wartime propaganda are historically important. They allow audiences to glimpse the mindset of the American homefront during the war while also learning about the powerful messages that propaganda campaigns conveyed throughout the war and whether or not they were successful.

Here is a link to Der Fuehrer’s Face song and video:

Note to those who view it:

Der Fuehrer’s Face can be seen as problematic in a modern-day sense. The depiction of racial stereotypes within the short can be seen as insensitive or offensive. The cartoon also displays sensitive topics like forced labor or the whole Nazi totalitarian regime on a more humorous note which might be uncomfortable for some who watch it. 

This is the cover for the vinyl record version that can be seen within the Caen Memorial Museum.

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