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Western Animation / How War Came

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How War Came is a 1941 animated short film (eight minutes) directed by Paul Fennell, made for Columbia Pictures.

This odd little cartoon is not a comedy like most animated shorts of the era. Instead it is a documentary, recounting in a condensed format how World War II got started. In eight minutes a narrator zips through the major events leading up to the war, recounting Japan's conquest of Manchuria, Italy's conquest of Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War in which fascists took over the country, and Germany's annexation of the Rhineland the Sudetenland before they conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia. Eventually, Germany's attack on Poland causes the British and French to declare war.

Part of a Stillborn Franchise that was called "This Changing World" Only this cartoon and one called "Broken Treaties", in which Hitler is shown to be doing just that, were produced. This installment was released in November 1941, barely a month before the United States joined the war.


  • The Big Board: The Japanese have a map of China and Korea on the wall that they use to plot their conquest.
  • The Cameo: Yep, that's Mel Blanc heard briefly as the voice of Adolf Hitler.
  • Documentary: A peculiar animated documentary short about the run-up to World War II.
  • False Flag Operation: The film discusses the Mukden Incident in which the Japanese faked a bomb at a railroad crossing as an excuse to invade Manchuria, and the Wal-Wal Incident in which Italians built a fort in Ethiopian territory and chose to regard a surveying party as hostile as an excuse for war.
  • Narrator: Narrated by Raymond Gram Swing, a well-known radio commentator of the era.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: Used for the Japanese takeover of Manchuria, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, and the German bloodless conquest of Czechoslovakia.