Education for Death (1943)

Are you fixated with propaganda or Nazi Germany paraphernalia? Then you have come to the right place (and if this post doesn’t appeal to you then perhaps this post will!) Frankly, I find the “power of the situation” to be a fascinating aspect of society and sociocultural matters. From Zimbardo’s Prison Study to Milgram’s Shock Experiment, the power of the situation seems to be a reoccurring theme. What I mean by the “power of the situation” is the innate likelihood that in certain situations, no matter how psychologically stable, we will take on the roles we are given regardless of whether or not we will inflict pain upon others. In many ways, we become mindless drones, staring in the face of authority and succumbing to its whim. In 1943, Disney came out with a short (ten minute) propoganda film entitled “Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi.” To view the short film on Youtube, click this link. 

Another example of anti-Nazi propaganda found in Milan. (photo by opethpainter)

Another example of anti-Nazi propaganda found in Milan. (photo by opethpainter)

SPOILER ALERT (a synopsis):

Education for Death follows through inside of a little boy, Hans’, life. He is born and is, essentially through education, trained to value values of Nazi Germany. The parents in question prove their Aryan blood by offering their son as a soldier of Nazi Germany under Hitler’s reich. They are given a copy of “Mein Kampf,” (Hitler’s book which translates in English to “My Struggle.” Then, Hans is shown growing up, hearing fairy tales in which Hitler is the supreme hero. For him, and a lot of other young peoples, Hitler then becomes an idol of sorts, and the children are more easily swayed into believing Hitler is a necessary good for Nazi Germany. The scene switches, and Hans is bedridden. There, a Nazi officer reveals that if Hans does not heal, he will be euthanized. Eventually he heals, and resumes his education. When he answers a question incorrectly (as in, not of Nazi order,) he is put in the corner with a dunce cap – which sways him to believe that the “correct” answer is, in fact, ethical and moral. Hans grows, partakes in a book burning rally, then marches steadily. As he grows into adulthood, where he is still marching, but growing more and more bitter to those who oppose Hitler and his reich, he eventually reaches the end point of his life. Where his education was ultimately his death. Thus ends the propaganda film.


Between 1941 to 1945, Disney was to produce 32 short propaganda films as to save their company from bankruptcy that was to occur as the over-budgeted film, Fantasia, failed miserably in the box offices. The film was to serve as anti-Nazi propaganda. Like many other stories that Disney converted into their own style of film, Education for Death can be seen as influenced by the book Education for Death by Gregor Ziemer. 

So there you have it! Education for Death is by far, one of the most interesting anti-Nazi propaganda films that I have seen so far.

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