For Memorial Day this year I spent some of it at the Holocaust museum in DC viewing the Power of Nazi Propaganda exhibit. My friend and I have been trying to go see this exhibit for almost a year, and only just yesterday were finally able to see it. I am SO glad we did.
The two things that struck me were the level at which the Nazi’s understood propaganda, and how to use it to manipulate various groups. They were so far ahead of their time it is ridiculous. It is fairly scary to walk through the timeline starting in 1918 through the end of the second world war. The second thing that struck home with me is that my mom’s parents were born in 1906 and 1921 in Germany, but immigrated to the US in the early 1920’s. I remember hearing stories that my mom told me of why they left, much of which had to do with feeling like Germany was headed in a bad direction, and feeling as though Hitler was not trustworthy.
It is an incredibly humbling situation to realize how extremely fortunate I am that my great grandparents were able to see the situation before them, and that their actions are what sent my family towards who and what we are now. I feel incredibly fortunate to know that while my family is German, and I am very proud of that, I am even more thankful and humbled that I am part of a German heritage who were not blinded by propaganda. I am so thankful to know that they were sensitive enough to Christ to know that what was coming was not good, and were able to get out in time.
From a Communications perspective I was a mixture of in awe and disgusted at the level of understanding Hitler and the Nazi’s had of how to manipulate. It is interesting to look at and compare the ways media and political propaganda are still used in the same ways today. How sad that it is still that easy to manipulate the masses. A few of the things that stuck out to me were the clear understanding of how to communicate a message with very few words, specific colors, and how with the appropriate amount of time and messaging, people can and will be manipulated. I was amazed at how many half truths were told, and how many blatant lies were told.
As I went through the exhibit, my heart broke for the families that were involved, I could not help but look at the various faces in the pictures and wonder at what horrors they faced or what regrets they lived with for the rest of their lives.
When I was almost 15 years old my family filled out a questionnaire on New Years Eve to put into a 10 year time capsule. One of the questions I remember most vividly was: “who is the most influential person?” my unusual answer was “Corrie ten Boom.” After going through this exhibit, I maintain my belief that she is certainly among the list of most inspirational people that have ever lived. If you have not read her story, please do.. Also, if you have never heard what she went through, and how she later truly forgave, please educate yourself.. It will certainly put an entirely different light on love, hope, and forgiveness, as well as where strength comes from.