DISCLAIMER: The document and existing photographs on this site are intended as a pseudo-historical satire, and is neither an advocation or dismissal of the events and people of World War II. It is intended for entertainment value only.
In the winter months of 1995, U.S. Army Intelligence personnel began a vigorous and thorough exhumation of many top-level documents acquired by the Allied Forces from Germany after the Second World War. Photographs, memorandums, and supply lists dominated the greater percentage of material. However, when Dr. William Mustafson came across a peculiar dossier marked, "Fafnir", his four-year-old son, Anthony, pointed at a series of photographs and exclaimed, "It's Barney!" Upon a closer examination, Dr. Mustafson understood his son's excitement: In a series of photographs taken from Hitler's personal records, a corpulent and smiling dinosaur resembling the children's show mogul did appear.
Alerting one of the country's most noted historians, Professor Earl Johansen of the University of Columbia, Mustafson telewired the photographs and requested an investigation. The results of that investigation are posted here, along with quotes and recollections from some of the masterminds of the Third Reich.
In this personal excerpt from Hitler's journals, Barney is mentioned for the first time. While the Fuhrer rarely mentioned the incident to even his most trusted advisors, it undoubtedly endeared him to the plucky purple dinosaur. The next mention of Barney does not appear until sixteen years later, following the dinosaur's appearance at a National Socialist rally in Berlin, 1936. A photograph (see above) depicts Hitler excitedly greeting Barney, who appeared unexpectedly from the crowd of well-wishers. The reunion, in Hitler's words, was marked by intense joy and remembrance:
Barney and Hitler met on several successive occasions from 1936-37, and after a lengthy vacation at Hitler's Alpine retreat, the Fuhrer graciously asked the Purple Dinosaur to become Minister of Children (Kinderpfarrer). Barney immediately accepted, and on June 12, 1937, Hitler announced his new appointment and Barney became the authoritive spokesperson on children's educational programming in Germany. Barney reputedly bellowed "Das ist erstaaaaaaunnnliiccchh!" (That's stuuupppeennddouuss!") from the old German Parliament building shortly after.
From Barney to Fafnir
"...it was his [Hitler's] concern that the name "Barney" sounded almost Slavic, possibly even Semitic, to warrant the trust of the German people. Opening my copy of Wagner's printed summary of his opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen, I showed him the passage where Siegfried confronts a mighty and powerful giant, who could transform himself into a mighty dragon...the name of this incredible creature from old Nordic legend was Fafnir." --Dr. Joseph Goebbels, 1937
Neither Hitler or Goebbels apparently knew the origins of the name Barney, which in the Teutonic tongue means, "Brave as a bear". Regardless, both the Fuhrer and Goebbels felt "Fafnir" would be an effective way to tie into the collective minds of German children and parents alike. They were correct. Making his first radio debut over Deutsches Volkenradio in September, 1937, "Fafnir" captured the impressionable minds of juveniles and adults alike. The hour-long show, called "Fafnir und Freunde", featured songs, skits, and promotion of nationalistic standards. Then, in a special live broadcast outside the Brandenburg Cathederal, Barney (now known as Fafnir der Wunderdrache) made his first personal appearance with Hitler. The response was thunderous, and thousands of German children flocked to touch and hug the cherubic dinosaur. Barney had proven his worth as Kinderpfarrer.
As Germany's war machine grew in strength and ferocity, Hitler retreated to his office with only a few privileged officers, including Barney. Peace in Europe was a central issue with Britain, France, and Poland, and talks among the countries had lead to a series of half-sincere treaties and proclamations with the Third Reich. Yet, behind the promises and calls for a peaceful Europe, Hitler made plans for the immediate and invincible onslaught against Germany's neighbors. Often Barney was pulled away from the radio studios following his "Fafnir und Freunde" hour, to consult with Hitler and his staff for the upcoming campaigns. The German Blitkrieg was quickly becoming a horrible reality.
When Barney was not in consultation with Hitler's staff or performing his radio program, he often accompanied Hitler to his Alpine retreat. He would often entertain Hitler's guests, including Goebbel's wife Magda and their six children. Eva Braun, Hitler's girlfriend and future wife, became particularly endeared towards Barney, and the two often went out on long walks in the mountains, discussing children's education and literature.
In September of 1939, Germany sparked the Second World War by invading Poland, prompting England to declare war on the Third Reich. Riding upon the wave of success, Nazi forces quickly swarmed across the continent, annexing Holland, France, Czechoslavakia, and the Balkans underfoot. The British forces were quickly pushed out of France, resulting in the massive evacuations of Dunkirk. Nationalist pride was at full fervor in Germany, and "Fafnir" was not above it. Accompanying Hitler to tour the newly conquered countries, the plump purple dinosaur was quick to realize the worth and fortune invested in staying close to Hitler. In an obscure excerpt from his journals, Barney's ambitions are fully illustrated:
"He (Barney) will construct a new breed of child, a Wunderjunge, if you will...a thousand years from now, when children ask their parents who was the greatest teacher, the answer will be a deafening cry: Fafnir! Fafnir! Fafnir!"--Dr. Joseph Goebbels, 1943
"This fat and bloated creature...who are we to trust our beloved Reich's future with him? Some say he is a tactical genius, but I am disposed to say he is an imbecile...an opportunistic imbecile."--Hermann Goering, 1943
Simply put, Goebbels loved Barney. Goering abhorred him. While Goebbels, the Reich's Minister of Propaganda, appreciated Barney's talents with influencing children, Goering saw the bouncy purple dinosaur as a rival for Hitler's respect. Following Germany's defeat in the skies during the Battle of Britain, and with the increasing presence of Allied bombers over Germany, Goering found himself falling more and more out of favor with Hitler. In fact, during a fit of rage, Hitler scolded Goering by saying, "If I wanted a fat, brainless reptile to direct my Luftwaffe (German air force) I'd have appointed Barney!" Goering is said to have never recovered from the comparison, and Hitler's insult only fueled Goering's intense jealousy and hatred of Barney.
By mid-summer of 1944, following D-Day, the end of the Reich was becoming more and more apparent. The Russian campaign was a disaster. With the American, French, and British forces closing in on the west, and the Russian forces moving in from the east, Germany was caught in a pincer that threatened its existence. Goebbels and Barney both struggled to keep the populace encouraged, while Hitler recessed into a troubled depression.
It is to Barney's credit that he eventually opposed Hitler's views of Aryan superiority. Seeing himself genetically inferior to his own species, Barney the Dinosaur did not view humankind in terms of race and ability. Rather, it is likely that he would view all people alike, mainly as potential slaves to serve his needs. So when Barney learned of "The Final Solution" that was inflicted upon Jews, blacks, gypsies, homosexuals, and criminals, he began to distance himself from Hitler increasingly as the war continued. Barney also resented Germany's alliance with Italy, and is rumored to have orchestrated Mussolini's capture and ensuing murder by irate Italian citizens. Finally, seeing Germany lapse into continual defeat, Barney realized his dreams of personal world conquest would have to wait a bit longer. Another excerpt:
Shortly following Hitler's retreat into his massive underground bunker in Berlin, Barney slipped away from the doomed regiments of the Third Reich and began travelling westward, towards the American and British forces. A few days later, he was captured a few miles shy of the Rhine, by the 7th Army Division. Failing to engage his American captors in a hearty rendition of "Yankee Doodle", Barney was immediately placed under arrest and forced to wait out the duration of the war in a prison cell back in London. Shortly afterwards, the plump purple Kinderpfarrer learned of the deaths of Hitler, Eva Braun, Goebbels, and Goebbel's wife and six children. He was also dutifully informed that he would be held and judged at the war crimes trial of Nuremburg.
After Nuremburg, journals suggest Barney headed for the Soviet Union, there to explore political opportunities with Joseph Stalin. Some historians, including Johansen, speculate that he ventured into the Orient, to reunite with a certain green styracosaur creature, formely known in the Imperial Japanese Army as Tokyo Bop, a radio propagandist. These theories remain unresolved.
Among the various journals and records establishing Barney's contact with the Third Reich, was a series of children's songs. Unlike the famous "I Love You" song of today fitted with the melody of "This Old Man", the Fafnirlied which concluded the "Fafnir und Freunde" radio hour was sung to the score of Mozart's "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". It seems only fitting that we end this essay, with this song illustrating Barney's influence:
Fafnir, Fafnir, gross Drache,
Lieb fur dich Ich kann habe;
Mit einem Kuss auf deinem Schnauze
Und viel Spas im unseres Haus
Fafnir, Fafnir, gross Drache,
Lieb fur dich Ich kann habe!
Fafnir, Fafnir, big dragon
Love for you I can summon
With a gentle kiss upon your snout
And much fun within our house
Fafnir, Fafnir, big dragon
Love for you I can summon!
Some things just never change.
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