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Education for Death (1943)

Education for Death


10 minutes

Animation / Documentary / News / War

Directed by Clyde Geronimi

The Making of the Nazi is an animated short film produced by Walt Disney and released on January 15, 1943 by RKO Radio Pictures. It was directed by Clyde Geronimi and principally animated by Ward Kimball. The short is based on the non-fiction book of the same name. The film features the story of little Hans, a boy born and raised in Nazi Germany, who is bred to become a merciless soldier.

Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi was released when Disney was under government contract to produce 32 animated shorts from 1941-1945. Intended as anti-Nazi propaganda during World War II, the film is rarely shown today.

“Education for Death” is a short animated propaganda film about a young German boy who is turned from an innocent youth into a corrupt Nazi. It follows a couple as they give birth to a son, whom they name Hans. They offer him into the service of Hitler and the Nazis, after proving to a Nazi supreme judge that they are of pure Aryan blood. 

We watch Hans as he grows up. In Kindergarten he is read a distorted version of Sleeping Beauty, in which democracy is the wicked witch, an obese Sleeping Beauty represents Germany, and Hitler is the knight in shining army that rescues the princess. Because of twisted stories like this, Hans, as well as the other children, come to praise Hitler.
In the following part of the feature, Hans is seen sick and bedridden. His mother stays by his side, knowing that the authorities are on their way to take her son. Fortunately, she is able to keep Hans in her care while he is ill. A soldier comes to the door and threatens to euthanize the boy should be not get over his sickness in a reasonable time. He also orders she do nothing to coddle him, for a soldier needs to be devoid of any emotions. Hans recovers and is sent back to school to earn his education. 

During one lesson, the young boy shows compassion for a rabbit that is eaten by a fox. He is scorned and humiliated by the teacher, who believes that the world should be ruled by the strong and brutal. Hans quickly learns that the cowardly and weak deserve and need to be eradicated, catching on to the Nazi ways. The teacher then leads his students in a rally, proclaiming the superiority of the German race that he declares is unconquerable.

Next, Hans is shown involved in a book burning crusade.  Books decreed by the Fuehrer are set aflame, the Bible is replaced by the Mein Kampf, the crucifix is swapped with a Nazi sword, and a Catholic church is burned down. 

Hans is witnessed growing up without any “laughter, hope, tolerance, or mercy”, only “heiling and marching, marching and heiling!” He continues with this until he turns into an adult and is deemed a “Good Nazi”, seeing nothing but what the party wants him to see, saying nothing but what the party wants him to say, and doing no more than what the party wants him to do. In the end the Nazis are shown marching right into their deaths – a cemetery full of gravestones. Hans’ education is now complete: “the education for death.”

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