Donald Duck and the Holocaust

The loveable Disney character has some toasty tail-feathers

WRITTEN BY: Scott Hixson
Donald Duck and the Holocaust
Image Source: sylvar via Flickr
Donald Duck and the Holocaust

Roast duck may be considered a delicacy in nations across the world but now one duck has flames lapping at his feathers for a different reason.

Donald Duck has made a soiree into the minefield that is politics. No, he has not committed an act of self-immolation to protest foie gras; instead, the beloved Disney cartoon character was mistakenly quoted as addressing a group of firemen with the word “holocaust” – the problem – it happened in a German publication.

The cartoon depicts Donald Duck addressing a fire brigade in the fictional town of Duckburg. Instead of finishing the address with the intended “Congratulations,” an error occurred, and the word “Holocaust” was printed.

The problem can be traced to the original English version published in 1972. Titled Where’s the Smoke, long-time Disney illustrator Carl Barks used “Holocaust” as a synonym for blaze or inferno.

Elke Schickedanz, spokeswoman for the publishers, Egmont Ehapa, told the German magazine Der Spiegel that the mistake was made when the word was not removed from the original printing before production.

The publishers acted immediately once the mistake was realized to recall the magazine, censoring the word by hand while a corrected reprint is distributed.

 Schickedanz explained that the publishers encountered another Barks cartoon titled April Fools, which featured Hitler’s Mein Kampf lying amongst a pile of discarded Duckburg trash.

Donald Duck became a Disney character in 1934, making the loveable duck and the Nazi party contemporaries to a degree.

Germany has enacted legislation over the decades to criminalize both denial of the Holocaust and use of any Nazi party symbols and slogans. In 1985, legislation was passed professing denial of the Holocaust an impingement of human dignity. In 1994, the legislation was amended to also include a prohibition of the use of Nazi symbols and slogans, an offence punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine, according to antisemitism.org.

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