The book "The Story of Ferdinand" is a short illustrated children's story featuring a bull who would not be provoked by a matador. When it was published in 1936, it was widely interpreted as pacifist propaganda by the fascist powers of the time, and it was subsequently banned in many countries including Spain and Germany.

The Question

In which countries or territories was "The Story of Ferdinand" banned by the relevant local authorities, when, and with what justification?

  • 2
    The German Wikipedia does not mention that it was banned and even claims it was firstly published in German, in 1942 - when WWII has been running for several years. (No direct source is given for all those claims)
    – user45891
    Oct 7, 2014 at 20:41
  • 2
    The main Wikipedia says the Nazis burned it. That may be where he got that from, but of course being burned is different from being banned.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 8, 2014 at 13:15
  • @T.E.D. Yes, especially as the book burning was mostly symbolic in a highly-literate country. Albeit hideous symbolism, and sign of future ovens to come. Oct 10, 2014 at 3:32

1 Answer 1


The Portuguese version of the Wikipedia article probably gives the most realistic reasons why and where the book was banned:

Ferdinando, o Touro (Portuguese)

Even then, supporters of dictator Francisco Franco classified it as a pacifist book, being banned in many countries that adopted fascist models of government. On the other hand, due to the prohibition by these regimes, the little novel was promoted as a leftist ideology book.

The English version of the Wikipedia article uses a quote that cannot be varified. The original article it uses as it source, does not, itself, contain any information where this quote comes from. The Spanish and Catalan versions are directly translated from the English version. The other language versions do not use this quote at all.

The Story of Ferdinand

It was banned in many countries, including in Spain (where it remained banned until after Franco's death).[6] In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler ordered the book burned (as "degenerate democratic propaganda"),

The given source ([6]) is the The Washington Post article by Michael Patrick Hearn from November 9, 1986, where the line

In Nazi Germany, Hitler burned the translation for being "degenerate democratic propaganda."

is taken from.

The original article from 1986 gives no source for this claim.

Searching for "degenerate democratic propaganda" , search results will be found from:

  • 1986, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2013 to 2019

in different varieties:

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library:

Adolf Hitler labeled the book “degenerate democratic propaganda.” He and Spanish dictator Francisco Franco viewed it as anti-Franco and banned it.

Julie (Canada)’s review of The Story of Ferdinand:

It was banned in Nazi Germany (by none other than Little Adolf) for being "degenerate democratic propaganda."

None of which give any sources for the claim.

Since the Michael Patrick Hearn article seems to be the 'Claim Zero' (no results found before 1986) and that Adolf Hitler being the most exposed person in the last 100 years, not finding a reference to the 'quote' before 1986 should be considered (at least) as odd.

Conclusion: Quote cannot be varified as authentic.


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