Parliamentarium to host Nazi propaganda exhibit

Written by Martin Banks on 22 January 2018 in News

A US Holocaust Museum exhibition on Nazi propaganda opens to the public in the European Parliament’s Parliamentarium later this week (25 January).

Parliamentarium | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

The exhibition is seen as particularly relevant today since Europe is engaged in a furious debate over how to handle fake and extremist news, but it suggests that fake and hate news is far from new.

Titled, ‘State of deception: The Power of Nazi propaganda’, the US. Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibit details how Adolf Hitler manipulated public opinion to destroy a democracy and institute a cruel dictatorship that led to genocide.

The exhibition’s opening later this week is timed to mark the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp and the UN Holocaust Memorial Day. It runs until May 13. 

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum, in conjunction with the Parliamentarium, is marking this year’s International Day of Commemoration under the theme, ‘Propaganda and the Holocaust: From words to genocide’.

The occasion is also being commemorated in Parliament itself with a speech by Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness, a Vice-President of the assembly.

This will be followed by a statement by European Jewish Congress President Moche Kantor. This year’s event focuses on education and children.

The Parliamentarium will also launch an English-language travelling version of the expo.

A spokesperson for the Parliamentarium said, “The exhibition 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 Kazerne Dossin museum in Mechelen, Belgium, is organising guided tours of the exhibitions in four languages.

“While the Nazis are gone, the deadly potential of propaganda lives on,” US 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. “

Bloomfield said, “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.”

Bloomfield said the exhibit “draws visitors into a rich multimedia environment vividly illustrating the insidious allure of Nazi propaganda.”

Exhibition curator Steven Luckert, who will be in Brussels for the opening, said, “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. Drawing upon these models, he successfully marketed the Nazi party, its ideology, and himself to the German people.”

The exhibition tells how shortly after World War I, the Nazi party transformed itself from an obscure, extremist group into the largest political party in democratic Germany.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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