"Bambi", the Nazis and Disney
Most all Americans remember as children — Bambi, the film, which was released first in 1942. Then, it was “re-released” decade after decade; the story of Bambi has been etched in Hollywood history.
The death of Bambi’s mother starts out the Disney Cartoon. You don’t tend to think of it as an adult. You search your childhood memory banks as you try to remember that first time you saw this legendary and mythic Disney cartoon performance. But yes, if you can reach back that far, you remember that very personal prick in your childhood heart, for you think of how sad Bambi must be. But then Bambi is so utterly transcendentally cute that the viewer, especially the childhood viewer immediately starts sympathizing with issues of survival, loneliness and the adventure that this little creature is about to set out on.
Mankind comes into the forest and kills Bambi’s parents. The whole story is quite complete, though the vague memory of over 50 years ago leaves me without the personal remembrance of the entire plot of the story, but it is easily found:
A doe gives birth to a fawn named Bambi, who will one day take over the position of Great Prince of the Forest, a title currently held by Bambi’s father, who guards the woodland creatures from the dangers of hunters. The fawn is quickly befriended by an eager, energetic rabbit named Thumper, who helps to teach him to walk and speak. Bambi grows up very attached to his mother, with whom he spends most of his time. He soon makes other friends, including a young skunk named Flower and a female fawn named Faline, as well as his powerful, majestic father, the Great Prince of the Forest. Curious and inquisitive, Bambi frequently asks about the world around him and is cautioned about the dangers of life as a forest creature by his loving mother.
During Bambi’s first winter, his mother is shot and killed by a deer hunter while trying to help her son find food, leaving the little fawn mournful and alone. Taking pity on his abandoned son, the Great Prince leads Bambi home. Upon the arrival of spring, Bambi has matured into a young stag, and his childhood friends have entered adulthood as well. They are warned of “twitterpation” by Friend Owl and that they will eventually fall in love, although the trio view the concept of romance with scorn, and walk away.
However, along the way, Thumper and Flower both encounter their beautiful romantic counterparts and abandon their former thoughts on love to remain with their new romantic interests, and soon Bambi encounters his friend Faline as a beautiful doe. However, their courtship is quickly interrupted and challenged by a belligerent stag named Ronno, who attempts to force Faline away from Bambi. Bambi successfully manages to earn rights to the doe’s affections and defeats Ronno in battle.
Bambi is awakened shortly afterward by the smell of smoke, and is warned of a wildfire by his father. The two flee to safety, although Bambi is separated from Faline in the turmoil and searches for her along the way. He soon finds her cornered by vicious hunting dogs, which he manages to ward off, and he makes it with his father, Faline, and the forest animals to shelter on a riverbank. The following spring, Faline gives birth to twins under Bambi’s watchful eye as the new Great Prince of the Forest.
The Book was Banned by the Nazi Party
But the history of the book that inspired the film is even darker story than the story it tells.
Born Siegmund Salzmann, Bambi author Felix Salten was brought to Vienna as an infant in 1869, shortly after the government allowed Jews citizenship. Already a prolific writer by the time he published Bambi in 1923, Salten achieved international renown with the novel’s English translation. In 1936, however, Bambi was banned by the ruling Nazi party because of its “political allegory on the treatment of Jews in Europe.” Burnings of the book were organized across Nazi states.
As anti-Jewish sentiment increased, Salten moved from Austria to Switzerland, where he wrote a sequel, Bambi’s Children. Meanwhile, one of Bambi’s fans, publishing magnate Max Schuster, introduced Salten to Walt Disney, who was taken with the book and wanted to adapt it. 10,000,000 readers and a Book of the Month Club selection in the early 40’s the famous tale was destined for Disney Immortalization.
Bambi Shadows Hitler’s Rise and Demise
The story of this book (from 1923 to 1942) curiously follows Hitler’s early career, his rise to prominence and the turning point of World War II – the Year of 1942. As the movie debuted, the first allied victories in North Africa at Alamein and Algeria were lodged. The German war machine was stopped completely in Stalingrad. The Germans who were not killed were taken to Siberia and never returned. The United Nations was established in 1942 and The Battle of Midway, in which the Japanese lost the hardware of four carriers, one cruiser, 228 aircraft and more than 3,000 men and the ability to offensively execute the war, put them in defense from then on.
“Thumper” and “Twitterpaited”
From being burnt in German streets to becoming immortalized on the silver screen, Bambi lodged his own metaphysical and psychological victory over his former enemies.
The name of “Thumper” etched into American linguistic history and “twitterpaited” a word that gained its own legs as the decades went on and of course the everlasting image of the little abandoned boy fawn Bambi are a part of American cartoon consciousness.
Yes, perhaps the book was burnt in the German streets because of “political allegory on the treatment of Jews in Europe” in 1923 but by 1942 it had “gained legs” in movie form and became a permanent encouragement to youth that whatever their apparent circumstances they could rise with the help of nature and friends and their own boundless will.
So, very much like little Bambi himself, the book took on the same resurrective powers of story and myth in its soaring path through history.
http://thejewniverse.com/2013/bambi-in-the-holocaust/- Mattheu Roth