January 17, 2018
International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2018
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Exhibition State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda Opens at The European Parliament in Brussels
“Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.” —Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1924
Brussels — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in conjunction with the European Parliament’s Parlamentarium museum is marking this year’s International Day of Commemoration under the theme “Propaganda and the Holocaust: From Words to Genocide.”
For this occasion, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is opening an English-language traveling version of its exhibition on Nazi propaganda. State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda encourages visitors to reflect on the ongoing dangers of propaganda especially today when many of the techniques and messages developed by the Nazis are being recycled and reused by extremist groups promoting violence and hatred.
The exhibition opens on January 25 and will run until May 13. Exhibition texts in German, French and Dutch are available. The Kazerne Dossin museum in Mechelen, Belgium, is organizing guided exhibition tours in four languages.
“While the Nazis are gone, the deadly potential of propaganda lives on,” U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum director Sara Bloomfield said. “It is even more dangerous in this interconnected world, when heinous content can be disseminated and consulted anywhere anytime. We need to learn the lessons of the past, to strengthen our collective capacity to respond to violent extremism. “
The Nazi Party developed a sophisticated propaganda machine that deftly spread lies about its political opponents, Jews, and the need to justify war. But Nazi propaganda was complex. For the Nazis to achieve power and pursue their racial policies and expansionist war efforts, they needed to paint a much more nuanced picture—one that would appeal to broad swaths of the population, not just a fanatical extreme. State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda draws visitors into a rich multimedia environment vividly illustrating the insidious allure of Nazi propaganda.
“Adolf Hitler was an avid student of propaganda and borrowed techniques from the Allies in World War I, his Socialist and Communist rivals, the Italian Fascist Party, as well as then-contemporary advertising,” says exhibition curator Steven Luckert, who will be in Brussels for the exhibition opening. “Drawing upon these models, he successfully marketed the Nazi Party, its ideology, and himself to the German people.”
Shortly after World War I, the Nazi Party transformed itself from an obscure, extremist group into the largest political party in democratic Germany. Hitler early on recognized how propaganda, combined with the use of terror, could help his radical party gain mass support and votes. He personally adapted the ancient symbol of the swastika and the emotive colors of red, black, and white to create the movement’s flag. In doing so, Hitler established a potent visual identity that has branded the Nazi Party ever since.
After seizing power, the Nazi Party took over all communications in Germany. It marshaled the state’s resources to consolidate power and relentlessly promote its vision of a “racially pure,” utopian Germany that needed to defend itself from those who would destroy it. Jews were cast as the primary enemies, but others, including Roma, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and mentally and physically disabled persons, were also portrayed as threats to the “national community.”
As Germany pushed the world into war, Nazi propaganda rationalized Germany’s territorial expansion as self-defense. Jews were depicted as agents of disease and corruption. The Nazis’ actions against them, in Germany and occupied countries, were promoted as necessary measures to protect the population at large.
The Museum is encouraging visitors to the exhibition in Brussels and globally to consider how they will honor the legacy of the Holocaust to combat hate and antisemitism. Audiences can use #askWHY to share how they will make choices and act to apply these lessons in their lives for a safer future.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum works to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors.
For additional information, please contact William Echikson, E+Europe, firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: +32475669736.
To learn more about State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, please visit https://www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/traveling-exhibitions/state-of-deception.View All Museum News Releases