The Twelve Animated Days of Christmas, #8 The Twelve Animated Days of Christmas, #8

The Twelve Animated Days of Christmas, #8

Der Schneemann (The Snowman) is a delightful 1943 animated short directed and animated by Hans Fischerkoesen in Nazi Germany. Fischerkoesen was arrested after the war accused of being a Nazi sympathizer but was eventually able to prove that he had been a member of an underground resistance group of artists. Read more about his life and work in this article by William Moritz.

  • 21st century man

    MAY-uhn, this is slow-paced!

  • Mat

    I love this film. The Snowman is very cute.

  • Saturnome

    It’s a great Disney-esque toon.

  • nice one!

    since you’re posting this little gem, I thought you might be interested in this good news: the very ambitious German dvd label absolutMedien will release a dvd series called “Geschichte des deutschen Animationsfilms” (History of German animation film”) during the next two years. Each release will focus on a particular era of German animation film history with a compilation of this era’s best contributions.

    see info:

    One dvd called “Hitlers Traum von Micky Maus” (Hitler’s dream of Mickey Mouse”, out on June 2009) will show the many facets of animation film in the 3rd Reich – between propaganda, entertainment cartoons and avantgarde pieces produced under the regime’s radar.

    info on this dvd:

    Other dvds in the series will focus on East German animation, present day, and so on.

    Good news: absolutMedien releases codefree dvds – and I’m quite sure there will be english subtitles.

    If there’s need/interest, I can translate the information pieces on the dvds.

    Anyway, thanks for your great work here in this blog – keep it up!

    Happy Holidays,

  • For those who may not be familiar with Hans Fischerkoesen’s work the William Moritz article Amid linked to is a good place to start , and also check out Fischerkoesen’s film “Scherzo – Verwitterte Melodie” (“Weather Beaten Melody” ) which has some incredible multiplane camera effects :

    Hans Bacher has some good screen grabs here:

    There was a more complete version of Der Schneemann (The Snowman) on Google Video at one time , but it seems to have been taken down.

  • billburgNYC

    The video here cuts off at least the first shot of the film. That’s a shame, because it’s a tour-de-force simulated crane shot past a chuch steeple down to the snowman on the ground. I assume it was created by shooting a stop-motion camera through a minature set, then tracing the footage on to cels. It prefigures the look of toon-shaded cg sets by forty-some years.

    As David wrote above, a complete version was posted online at one time, but is no longer around. I love this short and hope to see it again some day. Thanks for the info on those German dvds, Thomas!

  • Stephen DeStefano

    I found this film to be thoroughly charming, in the best sense of the word. Many thanks for posting this.

  • That’s great!

  • I had a black and white copy of this cartoon a while ago. Wish I can find it.

    Hans Fischerkoesen’s granddaughter, Stephanie McMillan, writes about her grandfather on her blog:

  • Never seen this before but heard about it in a lot of animation history books. There’s some mind-boggling animation in there like that shot at around 8 minutes where the snowman spins around as a beetle skis on him, which has such solid construction and line work that it seriously looks like a 3D model (maybe it is, like the house he walks around)? A pretty bizarre yet incredible film.

  • tim!

    Thank you so much for sharing this!!! so good, the lighting and depth: so amazing!!!! really love this! need to see more of Fischerkoesen’s work!!!
    This is so far the best gift of the season, thanks gang!

  • pat

    Nice! I was interested to know more about the film’s provenance so I read the William Moritz article. At first I thought- here’s a simple, old fashioned children’s fable made with help from a disgusting regime- this can’t be good. But the article was reassuring, and revealed that the story isn’t as simple as it looks on the surface. It mentioned coded messages in “Weather beaten melody”- the abandoned phonograph in the meadow related to the nazi ban on swing music and “degenerate” art. About “The Snowman” it says:

    “The snowman, an average person with some good and bad qualities, is trapped in a given environment, Winterland. Although it is functional, it is cold and in some ways inhospitable. He reads that there is another place, sunny and free, and arranges to escape there for some thrilling moments of warmth and freedom, even at the cost of his life.”

    That’s a powerful message in such an unlikely place, I give lots of respect for this film.

  • This post on the “Today’s Snowman” blog:

    has a version of “Der Schneeman” that includes the full opening credits and the 3D camera move missing from the clip posted above.