Did you know that last week a Norwegian museum director claimed that he has discovered sketches of Disney characters, Bashful and Doc from the 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as well as a sketch of Pinocchio from the 1940 film? Did you also know that he is attributing them to Adolf Hitler? Yes. William Hakvaag purchased a painting signed “A. Hitler” at auction in Germany. The sketches were found inside the painting. Imagine what it must have been like to make such a huge discovery!
It is well known that Adolf Hitler tried to make a living as an artist prior to his meteoric rise to power as the Fuhrer of the Nazi party. It is also common knowledge that Hitler loved movies. His favourite film apparently was “King Kong”.
It is quite amazing to learn, however, that he was a fan of Disney and particularly the film, Snow White (although it is based on a German fairytale). He is said to have owned a personal copy and viewed it privately in his own screening room. The same despot who murdered people by the thousands, may have had a softer side. The mind boggles.
Lest you think I feel some sympathy for the man, let me assure you that my trip at the age of 16 to the abandoned war camp at Dachau will forever prevent me from harbouring any leniency for Die Fuhrer. From the high walls crowned with barbed wire, to the sniper-towers, to the cold, dank cells, and perhaps most definitively, the crematorium where human remains were reduced to dust after having died of malnutrition or disease or suicide, every visual image is permanently lodged in my brain.
Dachau was the model upon which all other concentration camps were designed. Auschwitz-Birkenau and Belzec in Poland and Sobibor (where gas chambers were first used to put the prisoners to death more efficiently) and Treblinka (designed to exterminate Jews in the ghettos)–all evolved from the prototype of the work camp at Dachau.
I suspect not too many 16 year olds in the seventies were visiting Nazi war camps on their Summer vacation. My impression was truly of the horror and reality of the situation, but I also recall the strange juxtaposition of the profusion of roadside poppies blowing in the wind across the road from the camp–as if a memorial to the blood shed by all the innocent inside.
This week’s Friday Flashback is the poem I wrote while driving through Germany after that visit.
This is where it all began,
The core of all dissension.
Where rival countries went to war;
A war with no prevention.
The devious plots were wrought
And schemed in Hitler’s tyrannical mind.
Orders to ensure these plans
Came from others of his kind.
For unity it was his goal
To join the world as one,
And he would stop at nothing
Until the job was done.
To satisfy his insane mind
And lust for heartless killing,
He massacred some countless Jews
Which proved to him fulfilling.
And so he continued for many years
To murder trap and conquer,
Until the Allies joined their forces
And they held back no longer.
The fighting rallied back and forth
The outcome was unsure,
And as combat continued on
Our standing became secure.
Then, six years later all war ceased
For we had held our ground.
The epitome of madness reached,
The “Fuhrer” was not to be found.
Married, aged, and lost in grief
The war-lord’s game had died.
With cyanide he left this world,
And remnants of his pride.
By Kathleen Davison © 1977 (written on a Summer holiday in Europe)