Der Führer's Face

Oliver Wallace, 1942

What instruments do you hear in the background? What sound effects? What does the music remind you of? German "oom-pah" band. What do the sound and voice effects remind you of? Cartoons. This song was introduced in a 1942 Donald Duck cartoon!

What kind of song or literary work imitates the style of another work? Parody. What is being parodied here? What puns or other plays on words does the song use? "Dis-order," "super-men," etc.

Who was Goebbels? Goerring? What messages or policies of theirs does the song summarize?

Why was this song so hugely popular? Who do you think it appealed to most? Did people really take Hitler so lightly? Why poke fun at the enemy? How does humor help people deal with hard times?

What was Hitler's "New Order"? What were Hitler's plans to achieve the Aryan super-race? In 1942, had Americans learned yet what Hitler's real plans were to achieve his ideal Aryan society? If they had, do you think this song would have been so popular? Why or why not? (In 1940, Charlie Chaplin made a film, The Great Dictator, to ridicule Nazi notions of a super race, but said after the war that if he had known of the horrors of the concentration camps, he could not have made the film.)

"Der Führer's Face" performed by Spike Jones on Wacky World of Spike Jones, Hackensack, NJ: Pair [PDC2-1216], © 1998. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

 

"Spike" Jones (1911–65) was born Lindley Armstrong in Long Beach, California. He led a small combo on the West Coast in the thirties before working as a drummer in bands. He also worked with studio bands on radio shows for such famous personalities as Burns and Allen, Bing Crosby, and Fibber McGee and Molly. He formed his own band, "Spike Jones and His City Slickers," in 1942. He was known for his humorous songs, performed with sound effects especially popular with radio audiences.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source:

https://genius.com/Spike-jones-der-fuehrers-face-lyrics

Der Fuehrer's Face cover
Sheet music cover for "Der Fuhrer's Face."

This song was written by Disney studio staffer Oliver Wallace and introduced in a Donald Duck cartoon entitled Donald Duck in Nutsy [Nazi] Land. Wallace (1887–1963) was a British-born composer who won an Academy Award for best original score for Dumbo (1941) and was nominated for three other awards, including the music score for Cinderella. The song became so popular during production that the cartoon was renamed after the song, providing the band-leader Spike Jones with his first hit and Donald Duck with his first Academy Award.

This song is one example of the popular tendency to make fun of Hitler in the media, especially early in the war, before Nazi atrocities became widely known. Hitler was often a model for caricatures and the favorite of humorists and impressionists as well as animated film shorts (cartoons). Chaplin's portrayal of Hitler in The Great Dictator was a major Hollywood success. In this song, the composer and performers not only poke fun at the Germans by imitating their language, they parody the Nazi anthem "Horst Wessell Lied" in the melody.

Goebbels: Nazi head of propaganda.

Goerring: Nazi head of Luftwaffe.

Choose another "villain" either from World War II or a more recent conflict and create a cartoon and song parody based on his or her goals, rhetoric, or personal characteristics. Match the cartoon character and musical style with the leader.