Most Wanted: Burgermeister Meisterburger
Burgermeister Meisterburger (German: town mayor, master citizen) is the central villain of the Rankin/Bass special Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. He is the grouchy, fun-loathing mayor and essential dictator of Sombertown. He hates toys (although he did enjoy the yo-yo Kris gave him for a short time) and, after he trips on a toy duck while walking out of city hall, he passes a law declaring toys “illegal, unmoral, unlawful, and anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown in the dungeon. No kidding!” This makes the children of Sombertown even more miserable than ever and are forced to do chores instead of playing.
When Burgermeister finds out that Kris Kringle is still delivering toys to Sombertown, he stops at nothing to capture Kris and stop him from bringing fun and play into his town. Burgermeister arrests Kris along with the Kringles and the Winter Warlock, but Jessica sets them free with the help of the reindeer. Burgermeister Meisterburger vows that he and his descendants will hunt Kris down throughout the land, and labels Kris an outlaw. However, Kris was able to evade the Burgermeister and his heirs and went on to start his life as Santa Claus.
But as time went by, things changed. By the end of the special, it is revealed that the Meisterburgers eventually died off and lost power over Sombertown. By that time the people of Sombertown realized how silly the Meisterburgers’ laws were, and in time the Meisterburger reign sank into obscurity as more and more people came to admire Santa Claus. The people of Sombertown also realized that Kris and Santa Claus were one in the same. It was after the Meisterburgers died out and fell out of power that Santa was no longer seen as an outlaw.
The character of Burgermeister Meisterburger is likely a caricature of militaristic German society, and has some basis in real German leaders, such as Adolf Hitler or Wilhelm II, German Emperor the Kaiser.