Animation Under the Swastika

A History of Trickfilm in Nazi Germany, 1933–1945


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About the Book

Among their many idiosyncrasies, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, remained serious cartoon aficionados throughout their lives. They adored animation and their influence on German animation after World War II continues to this day. This study explores Hitler and Goebbels’ efforts to establish a German cartoon industry to rival Walt Disney’s and their love-hate relationship with American producers, whose films they studied behind locked doors. Despite their ambitious dream, all that remains of their efforts are a few cartoon shorts—advertising and puppet films starring dogs, cats, birds, hedgehogs, insects, Teutonic dwarves, and other fairy-tale ensemble. While these pieces do not hold much propaganda value, they perfectly illustrate Hannah Arendt’s controversial description of those who perpetrated the Holocaust: the banality of evil.

About the Author(s)

Rolf Giesen, a former visiting professor of animation at the Communication University of China and president of an animation museum in Changchun, China, has compiled a special effects collection for Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin and has co-written several animation features. He is an expert on early fantasy and science fiction films.

J.P. Storm, a collector of animation art and documents, has devoted 25 years of his life to research the history of German cartoons between 1933 and 1945.

Bibliographic Details

Rolf Giesen and J.P. Storm
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 245
Bibliographic Info: 127 photos (15 in color), notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4640-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8969-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Preface 1

 1. Optical Lyric and Shadow Plays: The Early History of German Animation 3

 2. The March of the Cigarettes 5

 3. Tilo Voss and the Development of German Sound Cartoons 9

 4. How Walt Disney Became Walter Distler: Snow White for Greater Germany 12

 5. Global Power for German Trickfilm 26

 6. Puppet Films: Starevich, Mecki the Hedgehog, the Diehl Brothers and Jürgen Clausen, the German “Pal” 28

 7. An Animation Pioneer with a ­Non-­Aryan Background: Wolfgang Kaskeline 42

 8. The Phenomenology and Psychology of Cartoons 50

 9. Hans Held, Troublemaker 52

10. Kurt Stordel and Purzel: A ­Self-­Proclaimed German Walt Disney and His Dwarf 58

Between pages 64 and 65 are 8 color plates containing 15 photographs.

11. Towards a German Disney Empire 65

12. The Futile Dream of a German Cartoon Factory: Rise and Fall of Deutsche Zeichenfilm G.m.b.H. 74

13. Snow Man and ­Weather-­Beaten Melody: Hans Fischerkoesen and Horst Von Möllendorff 110

14. A Surprising Underwater Cartoon from Prague: Wedding at Coral Sea 122

15. Deutsche Wochenshau and the “Collaborators” of the Europäischer Zeichenfilm Ring 126

16. Bavaria, Munchausen and the Town Musicians of Bremen 136

17. Animated Maps to Hail German Victories: Svend Noldan 144

18. Classified Animation: Training the Military 146

19. The Aftermath: The Postwar Era of German Animation 149

20. The Filmmakers: Biographies 151

21. Select Filmography 173

Chapter Notes 215

Bibliography 219

Index 221