Hitler's infatuation with Snow White
One of the strangest animation-related stories of this year to date has to be the discovery, in Norway, of a set of four watercolor paintings stashed behind the frame of a fifth. This artwork depicted three of Disney's Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio, and would be of no great import unless one knew the identity of the purported painter: Adolf Hitler, supreme leader of the Third Reich. Finding artwork attributable to Hitler is not truly singular; it is estimated that the one-time aspiring art student did perhaps a thousand watercolors over the course of his "career." It is estimated that the Disney watercolors were done between 1938 and 1940. Hitler's choice of subject is not unusual either, since the dictator had an especial interest in Snow White -- and Snow-White.
The latter was, of course, a German fairy tale known as Sneewittchen. Hitler despised modernity; in his heart he harkened back to the tales of the simple Aryan folk. As for the Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Hitler considered it among the greatest movies ever made. During a 1938 visit to Germany, Roy Disney sold the film to the Propaganda Ministry, one of 50 American films bought by the Nazi regime that year. The film was never shown due to growing anti-Americanism, but der Führer had a copy delivered to his private movie theater in Ubersalzberg.
What he saw embarrassed and upset him. Hitler was by no means a total fan of Disney -- he considered Mickey Mouse to be a degenerate tap-dancing idiot -- but even the leader of one of the world's mightiest nations had to bow before the technical perfection and animated wizardry of Snow White. German animation could not have produced anything like it, despite the presence of talented animators such as Kurt Lodel and Wolfgang Kaskeline. Hitler was reportedly furious about this unhappy fact. (Germany did have a studio producing animation under the direction of Joseph Goebbels known as Deutches Zeichenfilm, but the only significant film produced was a forgettable 1942 opus about a canary called Der arme Hansi.)
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