Jeśli ktoś przypadkiem zabłąka się w okolicach waszyngtońskiego Muzeum Holokaustu (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), to warto tam wpaść na chwilę i obejrzeć rewelacyjną wystawę poświęconą nazistowskiej propagandzie. Plakaty, gazety, odezwy, filmy z przemówieniami – wszystko to robi wstrząsające wrażenie. I wszystko jest odrażające i ohydne, ale jednocześnie w chory sposób przyciągające. Całość budzi niechciany podziw – jak to wszystko zostało znakomicie, celowo, dokładnie i zaskakująco nowocześnie przygotowane w celu wiadomym.
Z opisu albumu wydanego z okazji tej wystawy (State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda):
„Propaganda,” Adolf Hitler wrote in 1924, „is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.” State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda documents how, in the 1920s and 1930s, the Nazi Party used posters, newspapers, rallies, and the new technologies of radio and film to sway millions with its vision for a new Germany-reinforced by fear-mongering images of state „enemies.” These images promoted indifference toward the suffering of neighbors, disguised the regime’s genocidal actions, and insidiously incited ordinary people to carry out or tolerate mass violence. It is hoped that a deeper understanding of the complexities of the past may help us respond more effectively to today’s propaganda campaigns and biased messages.
Cover of an antisemitic schoolbook titled Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom)
Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom) was one of several Nazi-era children’s books that encouraged antisemitism.
Poster using a photo of Adolf Hitler by his official photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann
Modern techniques of propaganda—including strong images and simple messages—helped propel Austrian-born Adolf Hitler from being a little known extremist to one of the leading candidates for Germany’s presidency in 1932. Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s official photographer, created this 1932 election poster. The style of this poster is similar to those of some film stars of the era.
Mjölnir [Hans Schweitzer], „Our Last Hope—Hitler,” 1932
Mjölnir [Hans Schweitzer], „Our Last Hope—Hitler,” 1932. In the presidential elections of 1932, Nazi propagandists appealed to Germans left unemployed and destitute by the Great Depression with an offer of a savior.
Members of the League of German Girls practice their gymnastics routine
Members of the League of German Girls practice gymnastics at a sports festival, 1933-1939. The Hitler Youth combined sports and outdoor activities with ideology. Similarly, the League of German Girls emphasized collective athletics, such as rhythmic gymnastics, which German health authorities deemed less strenuous to the female body and better geared to preparing them for motherhood. Their public displays of these values encouraged young men and women to abandon their individuality in favor of the „Aryan” collective.
Deutsches Historisches Museum
Propaganda slide depicting „loss of racial pride”
This propaganda slide depicts friendship between an Aryan woman and a black woman as a loss of racial pride. The caption says: „The experience/Racial pride fades.” Germany, ca. 1933-1939.
USHMM, courtesy of Marion Davy
Der Bannerträger („The Standard Bearer”), by Hubert Lanzinger, circa 1935
This portrait depicts Hitler as a messianic figure gazing toward a better future for Germany, with the Nazi flag billowing behind him. Austrian-born artist Lanzinger (1880-1950) painted this work in oils on a wood panel. It was first displayed at the Great German Art Exhibition in Munich in 1937. Some say that Hitler himself picked this image after being dismayed by the other selected artwork. Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s official photographer and an exhibition judge, had the image made into a postcard around 1938. After the war, a U.S. soldier pierced the painting with a bayonet. It was then transferred to the U.S. Army Art Collection, German War
Depiction of the „pure Aryan” family, 1938
A depiction of the „pure Aryan” family on the cover of the 1938 calendar published by Neues Volk, the magazine of the Nazi Party’s Race Political Office. Note the eagle hovering in the background.
Antisemitic poster published in Poland in March 1941
An antisemitic poster published in Poland in March 1941. The caption reads, „Jews are lice; They cause typhus.” This German-published poster was intended to instill fear of Jews among Christian Poles.
Muzeum Okregowe w Rzeszowie / Historical Museum of Rzeszow
Emil Scheibe, Hitler at the Front, 1942
During the war, Nazi propagandists embellished the „Hitler Cult” by transforming the German chancellor into a supreme and infallible warlord who would guide the nation to final victory.
U.S. Army Center of Military History, Washington, D.C.
Mjölnir poster: „Victory or Bolshevism”
After the massive defeat at Stalingrad, Nazi propagandists began to alternate messages of fear and hope, demanding fanatical devotion to the homeland and ruthless treatment for the nation’s enemies. This poster appeared just after Stalingrad. It was part of a major propaganda campaign with the theme „Victory or Bolshevist Chaos.” This poster offers a stark contrast between the peaceful, abundant future promised by the Nazis and the threat of a bleak and miserable life under Communism.
Bundesarchiv Koblenz (Plak 003-029-043)