Monday 19 April 2010
Nazi Fairy Tales
I’ve been reading about Nazi fairy tales, the spin once put by Joseph Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry on some popular classics in the attempt to draw children towards the regime.
In a film version of Little Red Riding Hood the heroine’s cloak is emblazoned with swastikas. She is shown being saved from the Big Bad Wolf by a man in an SS uniform. In Snow White her father is shown leading an army against the “eastern enemy”, a movie that premièred in October 1939, a month after the invasion of Poland. Both of these examples come from a new study entitled Red Riding Hood in the Third Reich: German fairy tale movies between 1933 and 1945.
Goebbels was a propagandist of genius. He knew what motivated people and what was likely to alienate them. So propaganda in Nazi Germany always had a subtle quality so lacking in the Soviet equivalent. In popular entertainment messages were conveyed without any heavy-handed didacticism. I knew this was Goebbels’ approach to movies made for adults; it’s interesting to discover that it also extended to those made for children. Speaking to Hubert Schonger, a Nazi film producer, he said “Children will see through propaganda quicker than their parents ever could.”
The results of this study are to be published as a book. It should be interesting.