For copyright reasons, I reproduce only the first third of a WSJ article below. But I think that the article as a whole is generally accurate and interesting as far as it goes. I was slightly amused by the comment that the exhibition the author is reviewing doesn’t say much about the reactions of the German people. Since Hitler was virtually worshipped by many Germans that is of course a tactful omission. The “variety of positive appeals” that Hitler used are also far from fully detailed. That socialism was one of them could not of course be mentioned. I and many historians agree, however that “the German populace was ultimately more indifferent to the fate of European Jews than rabidly interested in their destruction”. Hitler’s view of the Jews was fairly incidental to his overall appeal to Germans. After all, practically everyone was antisemitic to some degree in those days. Even the man who eventually declared war on Hitler — Neville Chamberlain — had some antisemitic views.

The statement below that the Nazis could never “win a majority in free elections” is misleading, however. In elections where there are more than two major parties, winning an outright majority of the vote is rare for anyone. Mrs Thatcher, for instance, once had large parliamentary majorities in Britain but she never went anywhere near getting a majority of the popular vote. Britain’s centrist Liberal party siphons off too many voters from both Right and Left for ANY British party to have much chance of gaining an absolute majority. So Hitler’s electoral achievements were actually quite good in the context of the Germany of his day. He led the party with the largest number of votes and that normally entitles a party to govern in Europe (and also in Canada, for that matter)

There is quite a good slideshow of Nazi political posters attached to the article — though it helps if you understand German. I reproduce below one Nazi poster that I had not seen before. It is fairly crass so was probably not very effective. I reproduce some of what were probably the more effective ones here. My own much fuller account of Hitler’s motives and modus operandi is here

After the fatal shooting last month of a security guard by a white supremacist, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s entrance was garlanded by a makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and condolence notes. The memorial has since been cleared away, but a visit to “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda,” on the reverberations of hate speech, still packs an extra charge.

“State of Deception”—a special exhibition rich in content but somewhat cramped in design—follows the Nazi propaganda effort from its inception through its dismantling after World War II. With photo murals crowded with labels, vintage newsreels captioned with American newspaper headlines and oral-history interviews, the show raises questions about the links between propaganda and action. It offers insight into Nazi planning and aims. And it explores, in a fragmentary way, the German public’s response to Nazi efforts at manipulation.

Vicious caricatures of Jews, both foreshadowing and facilitating the Holocaust, are the most familiar detritus of Hitler’s propaganda machine. But “State of Deception” reminds us that the Nazis also employed a variety of positive appeals to rally support for dictatorship and European conquest.

Details and images nuance our picture of the times. One of the show’s first images, for example, is a 1932 campaign poster with Hitler’s face floating eerily against a black background, a design that evokes celebrity portraiture. The poster is book-ended later in the show by a postwar, red-on-black, anti-Nazi poster depicting Nazism as a skeletal death’s head—an apparent reference to both mass murder and the insignia of SS concentration-camp guards.

Hitler drew inspiration from effective World War I propaganda denouncing the Germans as barbaric “Huns.” One World War I poster—featuring an apelike figure, representing Germany, carrying a lovely maiden—was appropriated by a September 1939 Nazi poster to remind Germans of “the old hatred.” The regime would later argue that rumors about the gassing of Jews were akin to the fabricated tales of German atrocities during World War I…..

Read it all

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