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June 04, 2009 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-06-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Nazi Deception

U.S. Holocaust Museum looks
at techniques of propaganda.

Ron Kampeas
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Washington

T

he standout display in "State of
Deception': the special exhibi-
tion on propaganda at the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum, doesn't
really stand out. It's a little booklet
buried in a stunning array of posters,
multimedia and interactive exhibits:
Der Anti-Nazi, published in 1932 by a
German Jewish umbrella group.
Its arguments, according to Steven
Luckert, the museum's curator, are
unassailable. Its logic is irrefutable. And
its impact was zero.
The booklet could
barely hold its own
against a massive Nazi
propaganda machine
that aimed for the gut
instead of the head.
Not far from the
display case with the
booklet and other
small publications
refuting Nazi claims is
a poster of Adolf Hitler
from the same year,
running for chancellor.
His huge disembodied face — opti-
mized, softened so that he seems firm,
yet empathetic — is silhouetted against
a black background.
"They held it back until late in
the election:' Luckert said, "so that it
would stand out against brightly col-
ored posters."
It worked: Hitler was catapulted
into contention for the chancellorship,
with 32.3 percent of the vote, up from
just 2.6 percent four years earlier; he
seized the post after political maneu-

verings in early 1933.
Examinations of Nazi propaganda
traditionally focus on how its purveyors
operated just prior to and during World
War II, selling its plans for European
conquest and its dehumanization of
Jews and Gypsies. "State of Deception"
instead focuses on the early 1920s
through 1932.
The exhibit, and an accompany-
ing interactive Web site, are thematic:
How Hitler was sold as a leader; how
Jews were at first subtly excluded from
notions of Germanness in pitches to
some sectors of German society that
held Jews in affection; how youths were
empowered through Nazism; how an
atomized, despairing
nation longing for
unity was exploited.
Some of these will
seem alien to mod-
em Americans. In a
culture that lionizes
youthful rebellion, no
one is imagining a
national youth corps.
Still, the organizers
say, the questions per-
tain — particularly
for the school groups
from around the
country for whom the museum is a
must-tour.
Among these is how one effectively
counters propaganda once the facts
have failed. Another is whether politi-
cal ad copywriters should consider
the medium as well as the message.
Still another is, are the techniques
themselves problematic or are they
only problematic when you look at the
agenda? One of the exhibit's intentions
is to get people to think about their
work and its consequences. ❑

Loss

The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac & Jeffrey Gusky

The exhibit
chronicles the
early efforts to
make Nazism not
just palatable but
inevitable.

Celebrating Anne Frank

Los Angeles/JTA — Gala screenings of
George Stevens' 50-year old film The
Diary of Anne Frank will be held in
Los Angeles, and
20th Century
Fox Home
Entertainment
will release the
film on Blu-ray
and DVD with
added features to
mark what would
Anne Frank
have been Anne
Frank's 80th birthday.
Frank was born on June 12, 1929,
and spent most of her final two years

of life hidden in an attic during the
Nazi occupation of the Netherlands,
documenting her days in a well-kept
diary. She died in March 1945 in
Bergen-Belsen.
The film won three Oscars. Millie
Perkins, an unknown fashion model,
was plucked from among 10,000 hope-
fuls for the title role, with Diane Baker
as Anne's sister Margot. Both actresses
will discuss their experiences at the
screenings together with George
Stevens Jr., son of the director.
In October, Perkins will travel to
Jerusalem to present her original
movie script to the Yad Vashem
Holocaust Memorial.

April 19 -July 12

Free with museum admission.

DETROIT
INSTITUTE
OF ARTS

cLo.

511/

Roman Vishniac, Isaac Street, Kazimierz (detail), Cracow, 1938, gelatin silver print, © Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy
of the International Center for Photography.

This exhibition is organized by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

In Detroit it is sponsored by Till and Karen Davidson. Additional support has been provided by the Michigan
Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.

'In blessed memory.

1485640

Ryan c Nicole Jackson

Congratulations on gra uating
from the University of Michigan.
Continued success at Washington
University St. Louis Law School.

We are the
luckiest
parents ever!
May your
futures be
filled with
health, happiness
and the best
of everything
always.

Congratu ations on gra uating
from Walled Lake Western.
Wishing you much success at the
University of Michigan.

We love you,
Mom, Dad, and Codyik
Grandpa Sanford & Grandma Marlene,
Grandma Maxine

June 4 2009

A31

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