Propaganda is everywhere. It affects us in ways that we do not recognize. Everything from the political, social and sometimes, the religious beliefs that we hold to what products and services we buy and use. Believe that we have the best candidates, one political party will say. Do not vote for that other party. Buy this product. Do not use this product; or your kitchen will never be clean again. Your hair and face will not be clean enough with their soap, but our soap will make you look and feel like a movie star. That special someone will be sure to notice you then…
The type of propaganda that I described above is annoying but in the majority of cases, harmless. Now, I am going to write about an exhibit that will educate you about the type of propaganda that is all-consuming, brainwashing, and very harmful. Imagine if you were part of a religious group who a government decided was responsible for all of the economic, political, and social problems of your country as well as of the world? As a result of them believing this, they do everything in their power to get rid of you ( literally) along with anyone else that disagrees with them. That is what the exhibit, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, is currently teaching at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.
The Nazi Party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, became a very powerful organization that stripped Germany and later on, many other countries of democracy and basic human rights, whether political or personal. This all eventually led to World War II. Before World War II was even an idea, though, Hitler and the Nazi Party were unfortunately very successful at convincing the German people that Jewish people were the enemy. They were supposedly responsible for The Great Depression and other issues in Germany and throughout the world. As a result, they had to be banned from owning businesses, attending Non-Jewish schools and sporting events, being a part of organizations, and just being citizens as a whole. This exclusion from society eventually led to “Hitler’s Final Solution” and over six million Jews being killed in concentration camps. In addition, another six million people were killed ( Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Gypsies, etc) because Hitler also believed they were second-class citizens and/or they disagreed with his treatment of the Jewish people.
You may think that you could never be swayed by this type of propaganda, and that you would never go along with it. As you will see if / when you visit this exhibit, the propaganda was introduced gradually and built up over time. Slowly but surely, people’s rights were taken away and Jews and other groups began to be victimized. By the time someone realized what was happening, it was too late. The Nazis already had control. World War II had to be fought to expose Hitler’s and the Nazis’ brutality and to free people from it.
It is a very powerful exhibit. I recommend that as many people as possible go and see this exhibit. Besides learning about what led up to fascism and the Holocaust in our world’s history, you will also take away what I believe is an important lesson. Do not become complacent. No matter who you are and what is going on in your life, do not let problems fester.
I am not saying that you should fight everything. That would not do any good either. However, if you see something in your personal life, professional life, or in your country’s life that you feel you need to know more about; find out about it. Try to head off problems before they become problems. Address something if it is already a problem. Do not wait for someone else to tell you what you should do. Take the initiative. Communicate. Do not become complacent.
This exhibit will be at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage until March 15th. For more information, please visit their website.