‘Deception’ on display
“State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” is on display through Feb. 21, 2016 at the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art.
Drew Diamond of the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art stands before examples of Nazi propaganda that can be seen in the museum’s current exhibit, “State of Deception.”
It fills the screens of television sets, hijacks radio frequencies and dominates web browsers. Captivating propaganda, good and bad, is one of the most effective methods of persuasive communication. Humans have relied upon its power to spread their agendas for centuries, including the Nazis and their radical ideology.
“The propaganda that drove Hitler and the Nazis didn’t start in 1933,” says Drew Diamond, executive director of the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art and the Jewish Federation of Tulsa. “Two thousand years of history in Europe maximized their hatred toward other races, and at the core was a movement to eradicate Jews.”
The exhibit “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” recently opened at the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art and is on display through Feb. 21, 2016. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum produced the multimedia exhibition, which features four sections of rarely seen film footage, original images and vivid illustrations of Nazi propaganda.
Following World War I, the Nazi Party evolved from an undercover extremist group to Germany’s largest political party. As the group’s leader, Hitler quickly learned to mix the threat of terror with deceiving propaganda to attract followers en masse. In what Diamond describes as a “propaganda machine,” the Nazis’ keenly crafted messages appealed to large populations oblivious to the underlying, evil motives.
“Hitler needed the national German police force to participate in his genocide of Jews,” Diamond says. “He gave them status and legal power and reinforced every day that Jews were the enemy — criminals who were destroying the economy.”
Those of the Jewish faith were not the only victims targeted by the Nazis. Hitler and his battalions preached the ideology that all minorities and even people with disabilities deserved to be wiped from the earth.
“You can get a sense of how racism was ingrained in people,” Diamond says. “Those who engaged in the genocide justified murder as a means to an end.”
To accomplish this horrifyingly successful marketing campaign, Hitler borrowed propaganda methods from the Allies in World War I, his Socialist and Communist rivals and the Fascist Party. In an eerie twist of history, those techniques are clearly visible in modern-day news feeds.
“This country has 784 active hate groups, and with the presence of social media today, we see how powerful propaganda is in the hands of evil,” Diamond says. “The way you counter that for both children and adults is with education.”
The “State of Deception” exhibit is intended to teach the public why understanding propaganda is critical to cultural awareness and acceptance. Diamond says the museum presentation explains how propaganda played a key role in equipping Nazis with the ability to murder millions of people and justify war.
“This is a dynamic exhibit, and it could not be more timely in light of the intensified issues of racism and unequal justice facing every community in our nation,” he says.
Hitler spread his message of hate by denying Germans access to their history and discouraging respect for other cultures, but “State of Deception” places that painful past front and center. It challenges citizens to actively question, analyze and seek the truth without the influence of destructive propaganda.
Through Feb. 21 — “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda” 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday; 1-5 p.m., Sunday. Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, 2021 E. 71st St. $6.50, adults; $5.50, seniors; $3.50, students. Call 918-492-1818 or visit www.jewishmuseum.net.
11/7 James Woodfill: “Tulsa Patterns (Firefly Reference)”
Artist James Woodfill, a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, will speak about his installation on the Mimosa Tree-Pinnacle Building exterior at 301 E. Third St.
“Tulsa Patterns” is the first installation of the Urban Core Art Project (UCAP), a group dedicated to bringing public art to downtown Tulsa. Professional artist and University of Tulsa professor Whitney Forsyth will join Woodfill for a conversation about his work and today’s temporary public art.
Holbrook Lawson, UCAP co-founder, says the piece has invoked interesting responses since it was completed in April. The subtle installation is a system of battery-operated lights powered by the sun that flash throughout the night in random patterns. Lecture is at 1:30 p.m. Hardesty Arts Center, second floor, 101 E. Archer St. Free. Installation can be viewed through April 1, 2016.