In the Disneyverse, 1939 was a big year: Founder Walt Disney received an honorary Oscar (a regular-size statue and seven small ones) for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the 11th annual Academy Awards.
But while the brand could understandably be nostalgic for that year and that era, the official Walt Disney World account still baffled users online when it tweeted on Nov. 28 that “1939 was a vibe” alongside a video featuring the words, “Drop into the HappyVerse,” to its 3.7 million followers. Based on screenshots, the video appeared to be a five-second snippet of the brand’s latest commercial, where people are dressed in the flapper outfits that were popular in the 1920s.
The tweet, which was up for five days before finally being removed, seemed to be forgetting one major event that suggests 1939 wasn’t quite so magical for much of the world: the beginning of World War II. Under Hitler’s rule, Nazi Germany launched its campaign of conquest starting with the invasion of Poland in September of that year. From 1939 to 1945, up to 85 million people worldwide would die, including millions of Jews who were targeted and persecuted across Europe.
Naturally, those with a better grasp of history took umbrage with the tweet.
“Poland was not consulted,” one commentator wrote.
“I honestly think this [is] down to some historically illiterate millennial in whose mind the war began with Pearl Harbour,” another person wrote.
The tweet also prompted a revisiting of Walt Disney’s own legacy and accusations of antisemitism. Just a year prior to the “vibe” of 1939, Disney would welcome Leni Riefenstahl, a Nazi German film director, and give her a tour of his studio.
And for Black Americans living in the South, the 1939 “vibe” was Jim Crow segregation as the laws designating them as second-class citizens in public life persisted.
“1939 was sure as hell not a vibe for Black Americans. Has Disney heard of Jim Crow? I know they have, because of their racist early films,” one critic wrote.
Disney has not yet responded to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.