We talked about examples of propaganda and how it could affect people. One example, was the Nazi uniform. This was designed to frighten people with it’s dark colour, silver trim, red swastika armband and the skull that appears beneath the insignia on the cap. As a child this sort of propaganda would certainly have frightened me. I imagine how I would feel if an SS officer came and invaded my home in the middle of the night and took me and my family away. I would be so scared.
The Holocaust didn’t come out of nowhere; it spawned out of a long and vicious history of European hatred of Jews. Adolf Hitler, encouraged and directed that hatred against the Jews, and it became normalised. You know the truly sad thing is….. that many people began to believe that propaganda. Even when common sense told them, it was not so.
One way the Nazi regime tried to get their views across to the ordinary population was to tell lies. They wanted people to get angry and believe those lies. They did not want people to know the whole truth, they wanted to frighten people and make them turn against the Jews.
To prevent people from learning the truth, they publicly burnt books in Nazi Germany and Austria in the 1930s. The books targeted for burning were those viewed as being subversive or as representing ideologies opposed to Nazism.
Yet, regardless of this pogrom of hatred and persecution of the Jews, there were many ordinary people who chose to help the Jews – at great risk to their own lives.
We asked Marlene, “Why didn’t someone stand up for the Jews?”
She replied, “Put yourself in their place. If you see someone getting bullied, what would you do? It is not that easy to stand up for that person if there is risk to yourself. It is a heroic thing to do.” Well said Marlene.
It was a thought provoking visit to the Holocaust Centre, and I will return.