The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s traveling exhibition, State of Deception, the Power of Nazi Propaganda, has been touring a few years. The exhibit is currently presented at the cavernous Holocaust Documentation and Education Center (still under construction because of funding issues) in Dania Beach, Florida.

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The exhibit attempts to roughly cover 1918-1948. It is a difficult, logical and necessary period to present. The exhibit reflects liberalism’s Holocaust naivete; education was the problem and education is the solution to antisemitism, a shallow understanding of hate and its transmission.


Hitler and Mussolini early on recognized the power of the mass marketing of information, propaganda.  Ironically, Albert Lasker, a Jewish American, was an early pioneer of modern commercial advertising. His selling principles incorporated emerging understandings of mass psychology that tapped into pre-existing cultural biases. The Nazis were very astute users of the new mediums of mass marketing, radio, communication and transportation. They were very willing to blend effective selling principles, even if some came from a Jew, to reach their goal of reawakening and shaping mass scapegoatism and antisemitism.

Antisemitism is not a new invention that had to be taught by the Nazis.  They tapped into latent antisemitism that had been inbred into European culture by various Churches.

Across Europe, for millennia, the Jew had been, as highly respected German Historian Heinrich von Treitschke said in 1879, “The Jews are Our Misfortune.”

In another irony of Nazism, it was the contemporary Church that Nazism had to suppress because of Nazism’s inherent anti-Christian theology.

Hitler’s Final Solution did not blossom without evolution and development of liberal humanism devoid of God. His “humanitarian” solution to assisted suicide, euthanasia, the T-3 experiments, were the foundation of the Holocaust. The critical review boards that decided who would live and who would die, the disabled, the criminal, the “retarded,” were chaired by a Judge, a doctor and a medical practitioner to represent the patient. The Nazis deliberately excluded any representation by a religious advocate. God was excluded from consideration of life worthy of life. To their dishonor, except for the few, the Church(s) remained quiet.

The Nazis learned. The USHMM exhibit did not present…

The counterargument for the USHMM exhibit was the historical origins of the Holocaust had little to do with Nazi mass propaganda. But it did. The exhibit's failure was its simplistic linear retelling of the broadening development and utilization of modern propaganda.

The exhibit’s failure to stress the desensitization of German and occupied populaces acceptance of Jewish responsibility for the war, economic disaster, political dislocation, scapegoatism, was a weakness.  Even more striking was the failure, perhaps P.C. correctness, of the exhibit to show how daily life in Nazi-controlled areas was imbued with a normalcy of Jew-hating propaganda. The display of Nazi antisemitic poster art, publicly displayed in cities, train stations everywhere, was downplayed because it would be too shocking for today’s viewers.

As the war turned against the Nazis, the graphic viciousness of Nazi propaganda art became even more virulent. Most of the Jews had been murdered by 1944. The public easily accepted the need to finish the job as the Hungarian Jews were loaded into the cattle cars.

Again, in defense of the USHMM exhibit, many, impressionable young people would be “traumatized” by the full visuals of Nazi antisemitic art. The USHMM chose to P.C. it down. They were not incorrect in their actions.

When I was chairman of the school board of our 300 student Hebrew School, we followed very closely the guidelines of the Board of Jewish Education’s one day program on Holocaust education.  Invariably, enraged parents came to our board meetings furious with us for traumatizing their children. Teaching about the Holocaust as the Germans taught their own was verboten.

The USHMM was in a no-win position.

Modern Israel and Jews still cringe at Christianity and give the rising scourge of fundamentalist, religious-based Muslim antisemitism a pass. Generations of Palestinians have been taught hatred that capitalizes on historical-religious, cultural and now politically motivated antisemitism; Jews and Israel are evil. Imported Muslim antisemitism is reawakening the ancient hatred in Europe and America. Many Jews are concerned with being fair and balanced, or they are quiet. The ox has not gored them… yet.

Education is an absolutely needed response to hatred. Education alone is not enough. God is a response against a future Holocaust but not a God of hate. Tragically, a liberal God, abortion of innocent life unfit to live, is still sacrosanct; T-3 without the charade of a hearing.

The Jewish religious community refuses to have a day of prayer, a day of mourning, even a Halachically mandated prayer for the Holocaust because they must answer: where was God?

The rest of us pretend, with diminishing numbers, to mourn and remember the Shoah.

No single answer is clean.

Silence is worse.


www.JASHP.org

 

 

 

 


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