Burgermeister Meisterburger (German for mayor; master citizen) is the main antagonist of the 1970 Christmas TV special, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town which is a prequal to the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). He is the sadistic and oppressive mayor of Sombertown who despises toys and will arrest anyone who possesses or owns a toy.
He was voiced by the late Rankin/Bass veteran, Paul Frees, who also voiced his toady Grimsby, and Kubla Kraus from Jack Frost, as well as Aeon the Terrible and Winterbolt from the Rudolph specials, and Boris Badenov from the Rocky and Bullwinkle series.
Meisterburger first appears in the special intro when Grimsby brings his master the infant Claus, and a letter was left for the Burgermeister to take care of the baby. However, rather than raising the baby as his own, Meisterburger instead orders Grimsby to take the baby to the local orphanage. Grimsby loses the baby while doing so due to a storm, and Claus ends up rescued by animals and raised by the Kringles, an elf family who give him the name Kris. After making toys all his life, the young Kris determines that the Kringles should once again give out their wonderful toys, and sets out for Sombertown.
However, unknown to Kris, Meisterburger has written a law forbidding everyone to have toys under the threat of imprisonment after accidentally slipping on a toy duck. This forces the upset children to spend their fun time doing extra chores. When Kris Kringle finally arrives to Sombertown, he is avoided by many of the citizens and chastised by a local teacher Jessica, who tells him about Meisterburger's law. However, Kris finds the law to be quite silly and gives Jessica a china doll that her parents won't get her when she was young, thereby proving his point to her. Gaining Jessica and a lonely penguin named Topper to his side, Kris starts giving the toys to cheer up the children, which results the angry Meisterburger to declare Kris a wanted criminal.
Despite Meisterburger ordering Grimsby and his men to arrest Kris, the latter was able to make clear escape routes due to his experiences in the woods. As the months go by, Kris and the Kringle family were able to provide more better ways to deliver toys (with the help from several animals and the Winter Warlock) without attracting the authorities, such as going down chimneys and placing stockings near the fireplace. Fed up with all the failures to capture Kris, Meisterburger personally sets up a trap by capturing Topper and holding him hostage to force Kris to surrender. He also gets Grimsby and his men to arrest the Kringle family and the Winter Warlock, and had their workshop and toys burned down, much to the children's distraught.
Satisfied that he finally destroyed all the toys and put the entire Kringle family and the Winter Warlock in prison, Meisterburger mocks Jessica of her pleas to release them, as he stubbornly refuses to believe that his anti-toy law is so silly to begin with. Finally seeing what a complete megalomaniac that Meisterburger really is, Jessica manages to free the Kringle family and the Warlock by giving several reindeer the ability to fly (thanks to some magic corn that the Warlock gave to Jessica). With that in mind, the reindeer help Kris, Topper, the Kringle family and the Warlock escape into the woods, much to Meisterburger's anger.
Declaring the Kringle family and the Warlock as wanted outlaws, Meisterburger swears to have his forces hunt them down throughout the land to have them recaptured again. However, the Kringle family and the Warlock moved to the North Pole to evade capture right before Kris grows a beard and uses his original surname (Santa Claus) to avoid any unwanted attention. He even build up a new workshop at the North Pole and married Jessica (who is now known as Mrs. Claus).
As the years go by, Santa and his friends continue making toys and delivering them to Sombertown, and Meisterburger finally died after falling off from power, with the citizens finally realizing how silly his law was before praising Santa as a legend. For all his demands and huffing and puffing, the Burgermeister merely became the sand in the oyster's shell, the irritant that produced a legend loved by children everywhere.
- Burgermeister is very similar to Caldwell B. Cladwell from "Urinetown: The Musical". Both have enforced harsh and awful laws against their town, and eventually died in the climax.