WASHINGTON (Routers) Outraged over the insult to their Fuehrer by a film recently released by RKO, German troops reportedly engaged in violent attacks on Americans attempting to consolidate a beach head in the area of Salerno, Italy, today. The attack was seemingly sudden and spontaneous, waged against the 36th and 45th Divisions near the villages of Altavilla and Battipaglia.
The casualties are severe. The 1st and 3d Battalions, 142nd, and the 3d Battalion, 143rd, have been thrown back from Altavilla. Company K, 143rd, has been cut off. The 1st Battalion, 142nd, has lost all except some sixty of its men. The 2nd Battalion, 143rd, has been smashed in the Sele-Calore corridor and the 1st Battalion, 157th, has been hit hard as well. The American line has been dented, even pierced, and only the artillery is preventing a complete break-through. Worst of all, there are almost no reserves available to mend the line.
Titled Der Fuehrer’s Face, the short film that caused the uprising mocks not only Adolf Hitler, but also his aides Goering and Goebbels, and the Nazi belief system itself, and is clearly intended to do so. Featuring an insulting Donald Duck, it seems like crude propaganda, depicting Germans as cruel and stupid. It also makes fun of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. It also includes a racist depiction of General Tojo, the Japanese military leader. It features a silly and insulting song released last year by the so-called “comic” musician Spike Jones that mocks the Nazi Party.
Despite warnings by some that the film might inflame tensions with the peaceful German people, it had been shown in many theaters in the U.S. during the summer, but the State Department believes that the Germans had only recently become aware of it. There seemed little other explanation for the sudden outbreak of violence in the newly captured section of Italy. In hopes of tamping down the sudden and unexpected bloodshed, the State Department issued a press release:
The U.S. State Department condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the feelings of Germans, Nazis and other fascists — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all beliefs. Respect for others’ beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the feelings of others.
A State Department spokesman followed up: “The German people have to understand that the American government had nothing to do with the making of this film, and unfortunately, that pesky First Amendment to our Constitution doesn’t allow us to prevent such despicable things from being created. But this cannot justify all the bloodshed that we see taking place in Italy today.”
However, sadly and shockingly, the statement has done nothing to quell the rioting. Some aren’t surprised, however.
“The notion that this was caused by a propaganda film is ludicrous,” said one source at the War Department on background. “No one is surprised that the Germans would counterattack when we’ve invaded their territory. This is war.”
When asked if the attacks weren’t spontaneous, he scoffed. “The Germans have been massing troops for days in preparation for this operation. The State Department people don’t know what they’re talking about. People protesting propaganda films don’t come armed spontaneously with tanks and artillery.”
But the State Department is holding its ground, for now.
“Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response. What happened today in Italy, and many other parts of the region was a result, a direct result, of a heinous and offensive film that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.”
Generals Patton and Clark were asked for comment, but their response was unprintable.