In 1935, the Nazis banned the publication of the book because it saw its contents as having a hidden political significance for the treatment of Jews in Europe, and burned it on the grounds that it was “Jewish propaganda.” Professor Jacques Zips, who is in charge of the new translation of the classic book and a literary expert from the University of Minnesota, claims that “the dark side of Bambi has always been there, but Disney has somewhat obscured what really happened to Bambi at the end of the novel.” He accused the giant corporation of “taking over the book, and turning it into a pathetic and silly film about a prince and a bourgeois family.”
Prof. Zips argues that Felix Sultan’s novel is completely different. “It’s a story about survival inside your home,” he says, adding that from the moment Bambi was born he is under constant threat from hunters who enter the forest and “kill any animal they just want,” as he puts it.
According to Prof. Zips, all the animals were persecuted, and lived in fear. And that, he says, brings the reader to the edge. “I think what shakes the reader is the understanding that there are also animals that have betrayed, and helped the hunters kill.” After Bambi’s mother and cousin, Gambo, died – they made him believe he was special and the hunters would be kind to him. Bambi was also shot as remembered, but survives thanks to the old prince who treats him like his son. After the old man’s death, Bambi was left alone. Prof. Zips ostensibly likens the story of the deer to the story of the Jews: “This is a tragic story about the loneliness of the Jews and of other minorities.”
The writer changed his name to cancel his Jewishness: “He suffered greatly from anti-Semitism as a teenager”
Sultan, the author of the original story, changed his name in his youth to abolish his labeling as a Jew in Austrian society. Zips claims that Sultan apparently predicted the Holocaust in his story. “He suffered greatly as a teenager from anti-Semitism at the time. The Jews were then accused of losing their lives in the First World War. This novel he came to say: No, the persecution of Jews should not have happened.”
Prof. Zips argues that writing a book on wildlife allowed Sultan to go through the prejudices held by his readers about Jews, and to talk ostensibly about their persecution as much as he wanted. “When he was not so didactic, he could cause the reader to develop empathy for oppressed groups, and Bambi could express doubt about the cruelty of those who caused the oppression.”