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.


  1. Ana, where did you find that German book cover (or at least that's what it looks like to me)? I'm writing my high school history thesis paper on this topic, and I would appreciate it so much if you let me know where you found that artifact. My email is

    1. Anna, yes you are right, it is a German book cover. It's Der Giftpilz - The Poisonous Mushroom -, a notorious anti-Semitic storybook for children, published by Julius Streicher in 1938. There is Wikipedia article on the subject. The cover I simply picked up from Google images. I'm not sure about copyright issues, though.