Lieven's Blog

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Past and Present Interwoven…

Clipboard with Pencil_16x16It is a strange sight, almost disturbing. Nazi propaganda posters in front of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. It are the advertisement banners for the exhibition on Nazi Propaganda “State of Deception”. Normally historical museums are showing something that happened long ago, something that is safely stowed in the past. This museum is different. You feel it from the moment you enter. During a thorough security check all bags and camera’s are scanned like in an airport. Police officers are surveilling the security process. I even had a detailed check of my shoes. When I went to the Museum Cafe to have a drink and reentered the museum twenty minutes later, the procedure was repeated. No risks are taken. At this place the threat and destruction from the past is unfortunately not safely stowed in the past. In 2009 Special Police officer Stephen Tyrone Johns was shot while he was protecting his colleagues and visitors of the museum. The gunman was an anti-Semite. A picture of the police officer who was shot, is a sad reminder that the ideology of the Nazi period is still alive in the heads of some people. At this place the past and the present are interwoven.

There can be no rest, every generation should be informed about what happened in the 1930‘s. Providing objective and scientific information is the best tool we have to keep the memory alive. Therefore museums like the Holocaust Memorial museum are so important. Sadly enough even the big amount of information cannot prevent all genocides from happening. It is commendable that the museum also focuses on the genocides after the second World War. It shows that similar patterns of misuse of power were repeated. Deception through propaganda was used to incite the masses to hatred. The current exhibition at the Holocaust museum shows how propaganda works and how every human being (even we today) could be misled by it. The many artifacts from the concentration camps and the Kristallnacht are a witness of the horror that happens when the wrong people get into power (in the case of Hitler via a democratic election).

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