Nazi propaganda exhibit opens at National World War II Museum Jan. 27

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COURTESY UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM
  • COURTESY UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM

In an appearance this past weekend, top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway suggested this presidential administration may rely on "alternative facts" — a doublespeak-tinted term that was roundly ridiculed, but one that bodes ill for students of propaganda and disinformation.

Perhaps just in time for this perplexing, "alternative fact"-littered landscape, a visiting exhibit at the National World War II Museum explores examples of propaganda during World War II. "State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda" is a traveling version of permanent modules created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It opens in New Orleans Jan. 27.

Kimberly Guise, the National World War II Museum's assistant director for curatorial services, hopes the exhibit will open a dialogue with visitors about what propaganda is and how to debunk it. "It's always important for informed citizens to really think critically about all the information that is coming at us; in the digital age in particular where there's lots of information available to us at all times," she says.

Guise expects the exhibit to feature posters, video and other media as examples of both German and American propaganda from World War II. Nazi Germany, she says, was particularly skilled at manipulating its citizenry from an early age, beginning with board games for children that villainized Jewish people.

"The German ministry of propaganda were experts in using the tool of propaganda to build ... their climate of hatred, the environment of suspicion," she says.

As visitors take in the exhibit, Guise hopes they also will be able to identify scenarios in which propaganda has been used to positive ends: for example, in public health campaigns such as safe sex or nonsmoking programs. She says propaganda isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as citizens engage with it in a thoughtful way.

The museum will feature several teaching modules for educators related to "State of Deception," and Guise says there are plans to offer free field trips for Title I schools. There's an opening reception at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 with Holocaust survivor Margit Meissner and educator Sarah Campbell. Those who wish to attend may register online or call (504) 528-1944 x 229.

The exhibit is on display through June 18.


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