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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Disney at War: Shorts from World War II

animated shorts from World War II worldwartwo.filminspector.com

"Der Fuehrer's Face" was a hit Disney animated movie, which became a hit song, which song advertised itself as being taken from the hit movie, which movie advertised itself as being taken from the hit song. Ain't advertising grand?




Here are some selections from Hollywood's animated shorts from World War II. Walt Disney used Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny (who only was "born" in July 1940).



In addition, there was Daffy Duck from Warner Brothers, and others all urging you to save that cooking fat to help the boys in the trenches.



animated shorts from World War II worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Der Fuhrer gets it on the Cranium

It's kind of uncanny how live action films from the period appear creaky, dated and old, while animated shorts may deal with period themes, but they appear fresh and practically new.

animated shorts from World War II worldwartwo.filminspector.com


The jokes are surprisingly sophisticated and assume an informed audience, with plenty of clever puns and subtle word-plays. Of course, there also are very broad stereotypes of the Germans and Japanese, but there was a war on, you know.

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"Der Fuehrer's Face," included in the selection below, won Best Animated Short for 1943.


And below is Disney's "The Thrifty Pig."


And, "Donald Duck, Sky Trooper" from 1943.


animated shorts from World War II worldwartwo.filminspector.com
This is the sheet music for the hit song "from the Walt Disney Motion Picture."
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2014

Cats in World War II


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Faith, the church cat at St. Augustine's in London. On 6 September, 1940, Faith moves her newborn kitten Panda from a comfortable upper floor to the cold basement. The next day, the Blitz begins and the church is flattened. Faith survives in the basement - as does Panda. She receives a medal for "steadfast courage in the Battle of London."

I've been meaning to put this page about cats in World War II up for a while, and have been collecting pictures for literally months. They aren't particularly easy to find, but they are out there.

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This page intends to make no point, and perhaps makes the most important point of all, at the same time. That is for you to decide. If you like it, I also have a page on dogs of World War II.

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Cats took no sides in World War II. There were cats in every capital, serving with every army, and providing aid and comfort for soldiers everywhere. Cats, essentially, were (and are) meaningless to military history.

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But let's think about that a bit. Cats indeed are everywhere, in the thick of the fighting, in buildings quaking under the fiercest of bombings, and on the most dangerous battlefields.

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Perhaps cats humanize war a bit, in a backhanded way.

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You can't have cats around without them serving as a bit of a reminder of earlier, better times, when you went to foreign places simply to visit and meet the people and not destroy anything that dares to stand in your way.

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You certainly seldom see photos of stern soldiers letting down their guard more than when they have a cat in their hands.

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In fact, they cats make them seem happier than anything else does.

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The soldiers usually seem quite proud of their cats.

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And cats often seem to be the life of the party.

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German submarine U-564 with black cat emblem. The cat was a lucky charm: the British sank the boat in the Bay of Biscay on 14 June 1943, but much of the crew, including the commander, survived. 

Cats are defenseless, taking whatever harm also befalls the humans around them without a sound, with nobody even noticing their presence. In fact, cats are a bit like enemy civilians that soldiers don't notice unless they become, you know, inconvenient by getting in the way.

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Mrs. Caroline Roberts of 22 Lindfield street, Poplar, London. She is seen here in November 1940, feeding cats made homeless by the bombing raids.

Yes, it is absolutely ridiculous to have a page about cats in World War II. I join in your smirk at the very thought. War is about heroic fights and glorious deaths. And all that.

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Leutnant Franz von Werra ('The One That Got Away') - BF109 E4 - II.JG 3. - Wierre au Bois, France - Aug.'40 (with his pet lion cub 'Simba') ECPAD.

Sometimes, though, it is good to have a reminder that no matter how you may feel about your opponent, who we all know is the blackest of blackhearts and who has no redeeming features whatsoever, that there are others involved in the destruction we wreak as well. Whilst you are busy exterminating the 'hated foe' and making the world safe for democracy or whatever cause you fight for, there also always are innocent creatures about who also will suffer from your righteous anger. It's a fact of life, and it gives a bit of perspective on the world and our responsibility to it. Perhaps the soldiers in these pictures understand that and show it by having a cat around.

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He kind of blends in with the window, but there's a cat watching the proceedings over there on the right

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The poor little fellow is a bit singed, but he made it through
The cat is not helping this poor fellow's attempt to blend in.
Liberated cat on Iwo Jima.
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U-953 and mascot Peter the cat.
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English cat in reinforced carrier during WWII - his own personal bomb shelter. Clearly not happy about it, though.
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I don't know who these officers are, but he sure likes his cat!
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Mussolini meets Hermann Goering's pet lion, along with Emmy Goering, at Carinhall just before the war. Goering resented various snubs by Mussolini from the 1920s and no doubt loved the chance to intimidate him a bit. Il Duce doesn't give an inch.
cats worldwartwo.filminspector.com
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"Why don't you go away I can get some shut eye?" New mascot 'Saipan' of the USS New Mexico humors the sailor taking care of him. The New Mexico provided support during the U.S. Marine invasion of Saipan in 1944, so it it likely the cat was rescued after the battle, perhaps from a former Japanese owner.
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No, I don't know either.
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2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Cult of Hitler

Adolf Hitler cult of personality worldwartwo.filminspector.
Roman Vishniac's daughter, Mara, posing in front of an election poster for President Hindenburg and Hitler, Berlin, 1933. © Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy International Center of Photography. Note that Hitler was benefiting by association with Hindenburg, a man who was a mere popular figurehead and at the very least on the verge of senility. Hitler himself did not put his own self up for a straight up-or-down vote - he knew how that would turn out while people still had a choice in the matter. Once Hindenburg was dead in 1934, though, all bets were off and Hitler unleashed the killing machinery. There were no more elections.

It is easy now to imagine that everybody knew all along what a snake Adolf Hitler. was, and that he was busy exterminating whole swathes of people for no reason whatsoever. Clearly the evidence was there for all to see.

Photos like this one of Hitler at a Nuremberg rally were carefully composed and posed. Nothing was left to chance where Hitler's public image was concerned, because that was the source of all of his power. That picture is perfectly executed.

However, exactly the opposite appears to have been the truth: nobody in Germany except a scattered few seemed to realize that Hitler was a fiend who was busy destroying all that was best about Germany.

Adolf Hitler cult of personality worldwartwo.filminspector.
Schooltime.

They know now. They did not know then.

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Women factory workers put the finishing touches to mass-produced busts of the Fuhrer, 1937. In a few years, other ladies like this would be sitting exactly like shown in this picture, but they would be dressed in concentration camp uniforms and making clothing and ammunition for the Wehrmacht troops while being paid nothing and on survival rations.

Benito Mussolini in Italy had invented the modern 'cult of personality.' It was to allow him to rise to the heights of power, but then leave him dangling from a meathook in Dongo.

Adolf Hitler cult of personality worldwartwo.filminspector
Mussolini invented the modern histrionic portrayal of manly virtues at venues like this. The Third Reich simply adopted and extended the idea. 

Hitler's propaganda people took the concept a step further, "to the next level" as the modern saying goes.

Adolf Hitler cult of personality worldwartwo.filminspector


It involved an aura of hero worship seldom seen since.

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Hitler is looking at that woman kind of funny. Hey wait a minute... is that a woman?

It was quite fashionable, if not quite mandatory, to have a shrine to Hitler in your home. Fresh flowers, of course, at all times.

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When the Propaganda Ministry could no longer tie Hitler in with Hindenburg, it resorted to one of the Third Reich's standard tricks - infusing him with the epic grandeur of Teutonic legends. A little cake also sweetened the message.

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Birthday cake on Adolf Hitler's 45th birthday, April 20, 1934. His birthday, along with Goering's in January, was celebrated throughout the Hitler era. Those Hitler Youth boys would make prime cannon fodder less than a decade later. 

This tactic of using German mythology to burnish the Fuhrer's image was quite successful. It also was used on recruiting posters, but it went to absurd lengths in trying to draw a direct line from Roman triumphs and Prussian Knights to the Fuhrer.

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He received gushing fan mail from women across Germany in the manner of a modern film star. He carefully managed his image with the assistance of Dr. Josef Goebbels, a propaganda master, and during the early years there were undeniable successes (and a lot of hidden butcher) to point towards. One could say that Adolf Hitler perfected the science of the cult of personality. For some fervent followers, it outlasted his death.

Adolf Hitler cult of personality worldwartwo.filminspector.
A shop selling Hitler paraphernalia. The card in the window is headlined 'Our Leader" next to the picture of the bust of Hitler, and continues on "Souvenirs of the Party of 1935.'

While it may seem odd that people would buy busts of mere political leaders, homes throughout Germany were filled with portraits of the Fuhrer and sometimes even those of some of his shady lieutenants. It is easy to claim now that this was done because it was 'required,' but it wasn't. German citizens for the most part liked Hitler and his policies. People in the occupied countries - not so much.

Adolf Hitler cult of personality worldwartwo.filminspector.
Parisians (and apparently partisans), having kicked the Germans out of town days earlier, here express their own opinion of the cult of Hitler by standing it up against an Army jeep and defacing it. Note the American soldier in the background.

Once freed from the German yoke, people across Europe - including in Germany - were free to express their true feeling. It wasn't usually very pretty.

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2014