Sunday, March 18, 2007

der Fuehrer's Face - part 4 - Schnitzelbank

On December 1st, 1942, artist Oskar Lebeck sent a letter to Eleanor Packer at the Walt Disney Studios regarding production of a book and party favor that would tie-in to der Fuehrer’s Face.

The party favor Lebeck created was a sheet of paper illustrated with a caricature of Hitler. The design was similar to a child’s pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey birthday party game.

Lebeck’s book proposal contained several pages, each featuring two lines of rhyme within an illustration and two lines of rhyme beneath the illustration that were supposed to be taken from the film’s lyrics. Lebeck said in his letter, “The rhymes and drawings in this dummy are, of course, very rough and all will be revised.”

The rhyme within the illustrations is based on the concept of the so-called German “Schnitzelbank Song.” Two different types of Schnitzelbank song exist: one is used to teach the German language to children, while the other is a parody of events or people that is most often sung at bars.

In the letter Lebeck wrote in part:

“Be sure to impress upon the Studio how much everybody out here likes the item. Somebody from the O.W.I. [Office of War Information] has a dummy of the Schitzelbank now and though we have not had his report on how various departments reacted to this item, he assured us that Washington will be very much interested in seeing this Schitzelbank produced, especially at this time. He feels that up to now nothing has been done in way of propaganda that has equaled this item.”

The art on the front cover of the proposed Schitzelbank book is based on the art found on the cover of the film’s sheet music: Donald with an overripe tomato in his hand, no doubt just seconds away from launching the rotten fruit at Hitler’s face.

Lebeck later became an editor/writer for Dell comics. Neither of Lebeck’s ideas advanced beyond the conceptual stage. This post shows the cover for the proposed booklet and four of the inside pages. The art is courtesy my good friend, fellow collector and researcher Dennis Books.

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