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Western Animation / Der Schneemann

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Not a good idea.

Der Schneemann ("The Snowman") is a 1943 animated short film made by Hans Fischerkoesen in Nazi Germany.

A snowman sitting out in the public square of a small German town is brought to life when snowflakes fall on his chest in a heart-shaped pattern. The snowman goes on a series of merry adventures, like skating on a frozen lake or chasing around with a dog, before seeing a calendar and taking note of the picture of July and summer. The snowman elects to hide in an icebox until July so he can enjoy the summer. Tragic consequences ensue.

Hans Fischerkoesen was a commercial animator who was ordered by Joseph Goebbels to create animated cartoons after World War II had cut off German access to Disney products. Der Schneemann is free of Nazi propaganda, and the snowman's yearning for summer has been interpreted as a subtle bit of anti-Nazi messaging by Fischerkoesen, who was a member of an underground resistance group.



  • Animate Inanimate Object: The snowman, of course, as well as the smiling, dancing trees seen towards the end of the cartoon.
  • Body Horror: The snowman falls through the ice of a lake. The water under the ice is still above freezing, obviously, so when he emerges he is a melting, slushy, much thinner version of himself. He rolls down a snow-covered hill to regain his former mass. At the end, there is no such escape, and the snowman simply melts.
  • Born of Magic: Somehow, snowflakes falling in the shape of a heart cause the snowman to come to life.
  • Brick Joke: At one point the snowman has to snatch his carrot nose away from a rabbit who tries to eat it. At the end, after the snowman has melted, the rabbit pauses for a moment to mourn, then picks up the carrot and takes a bite.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: Mostly, although towards the end the snowman sings a song, "Da ist der Sommer meines Lebens..." ("that's the summer of my life"), right before he melts.
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  • Snowlems: Possibly the Ur-Example. Snowflakes falling in a heart-shaped pattern bring a snowman to life.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: One might imagine, given the lighthearted, whimsical nature of the cartoon, that the snowman would somehow escape the heat of summer. Nope. He melts.
  • Time Passes Montage: A single panning shot shows the snow melting and all the trees and grass and flowers growing as the season goes from winter to summer.