''Der Fuehrer’s Face'' is a song that was first used in the Disney cartoon of the same title. The song is meant to be played in the style of a ‘German March’, as stated on the sheet music. The melody is fairly simple and repetitive, with a repeating verse interjected with a short interlude. This leads itself to being easily remembered, an attribute that is useful for any piece of music, especially one that aims to manipulate listeners. Phyllis Mills can still remember the tune and some of the words of the first verse, more than 60 years after the song was published.
One of the themes repeated many times in the song is “Ve Heil! Heil! Right in Der Fuehrer’s Face” although “Der Fuehrer” is at times replaced by “Herr Goebbels” and “Herr Goehring”, and in later verses by other phrases. In the sheet music, each ‘Heil!’ is interjected by a “razz”. The Australian Oxford English Dictionary defines razz as “…tease, ridicule”, and refers to the term raspberry, “…a sound made with the lips expressing dislike, derision, or disapproval”. This inclusion of raspberries increases the appeal of audience interaction in the song, as listeners can join the singer in blowing a raspberry after every ‘Heil!’, and will increase the likelihood of the song being remembered. The razz is also a sign of derision directed at the figure the ‘Heil!’ is directed at, and by extension the Nazis. It gave listeners a sense that the Nazis and their leaders were nothing more than figures of ridicule. The repetitive nature of the ‘Heil!’, and the way it occurs whenever a Nazi leader makes a statement, portrays the Nazis as a group that will blindly follow their leaders’ orders, even when the orders or statements are patently ridiculous, such as “Ven Herr Goebbels says, ‘Ve own der Vorld und Space’ ”.
The language used in ''Der Fuehrer’s Face'' is also designed to ridicule the German people. It caters to the popular perception of German accents, with many words beginning with ‘w’ being replaced by ‘v’. Examples of this include ‘ven’ instead of ‘when’, ‘Vorld’ instead of ‘World’, and ‘vould’ instead of ‘would’. The words ‘der’ and ‘dey’ll’ are also used to replace ‘the’ and ‘they’ll’. Other substitutions of words are more complex than just changing the initial syllable, such as ‘luff’, ‘neffer’, and ‘nutzi’ for ‘love’, ‘never’, and ‘Nazi’ respectively. The use of this type of language is another attempt to hold the German people up to ridicule, by creating an impression that they cannot speak proper English, and portrays them as being silly rather than frightening.
The lyrics of ''Der Fuehrer’s Face'' start by stating that the Nazis agree with Hitler, and the Nazi leadership. For example, the lyrics include “Not to luff der Fuehrer iss a great disgrace”, and that they will ‘Heil’ other leaders. However, the second verse contains “Herr Goebbels says, “Ve own der Vorld und Space” ” and “Herr Goering says: “Dey’ll neffer bomb this place” ”, both statements that are obviously not feasible, thus making the Nazi leaders seem egotistical and silly. The second verse starts with stating that the Nazis are “Aryan pure, Supermen … Super, Duper, Supermen”. This refers to the Nazi philosophy of keeping their race pure, but again in a manner that makes this philosophy and the Nazis seem quite silly. In the second part of this stanza, the tone of the song changes slightly with “Ya dis nutzi land iss goot, Ve vould leave it if ve could!”. In this line of the song, the portrayal of the Nazis begins to move from people blindly following their leader’s to a group starting to have doubts, a theme that becomes more specific later in the song. The second part of the interlude refers to Hitler’s “New Order”, and that “Ev’ry one of foreign race will luff Der Fuehrer’s Face … Ven ve bring to der world dis order”. This is perhaps an unintentional pun, referring to bringing disorder to the world, and disparages Hitler’s aim of a new world order.
The second part of ''Der Fuehrer’s Face ''is much more negative in tone. The sixth stanza shows the German people doubting Hitler’s statement that the war will be over soon, but “If you doubt Der Fuehrer, you von’t last so long”. Although this line says that doubting Hitler is a good way to get executed, the next line confirms the doubt. The next stanza again states the consequences of openly expressing doubts about statements and orders from the Nazi leadership, “…to doubt Herr Goebbels vould be indiscreet”, and portrays the German supply situation as weak, “Ve’ll get some meat next veek” and “But still ve got no meat”. It is difficult to fear an enemy that cannot supply their own troops, and such an enemy will be seen as easier to overcome.
The second interlude begins with listing
allies of the Nazis, “Ya! us nutzis,
ve haff friends, Ve haff many Aryan friends”. These are listed as Mussolini, Hirohito, and Laval.
However, the first stanza of the second interlude ends with “But ve’ll get dem in the end”. This stanza serves a number of purposes. Firstly, it brings into the song the allies
of Nazi Germany;
The second stanza of the second interlude is aimed at stirring national pride. The country “…just twenty miles away, vhere those “blarsted British” play” still holds firm, and the British “…von’t let us have their country”. This also makes the Nazis appear very petulant and immature, as if they were a young child wanting a sweet they cannot have. The final stanza is a blow aimed directly at Hitler, “But some day in hell, he’ll be right in his place, Ven ve’ll Heil! Heil! Right in Der Fuehrer’s Face”. This stanza is an affirmation of the fight against Hitler and Nazi Germany, and asserts that he will lose and end up “in hell”, with the implication that this is where he belongs.
''Der Fuehrer’s Face'' is a song that was designed to manipulate the emotions and attitudes of its listeners. It does this by subjecting Hitler and the Nazis to ridicule, both through the use of ‘Germanic’ language, and the message in the lyrics. The music itself is fairly simple and memorable, meaning that the song, and subsequently the propaganda message, will be well remembered.
Mills, “Interview about music and entertainment in WWII”,