Design of the Third Reich Expo

This past weekend I went to an expo at the design museum in Den Bosch, Netherlands. For the past few months they have had an expo about art and design within the Third Reich. This expo was the first one to ever be done about this subject.

When the museum had announced the expo it created a lot of controversy. People were scared that it would glorify the “evil Nazi ideology”. The controversy was so extreme that even international mainstream media new sources reported on it. The museum put some special measures into effect, banning photographs, allowing only 50 people into the exhibit at once, and requiring people to reserve tickets online upfront.

“From the start we explain that this was a racist ideology and that the party’s aim was to establish a racist volk culture. The exhibition has the feel of a documentary.”

Timo de Rijk, director of the museum

All this made me want to visit myself to see what the fuzz was all about, and so I did. However, I was very surprised to see how overblown all the controversy surrounding it was when I did visit.

Where I was expecting to find a couple of halls and rooms filled with exhibits I found only two rooms, one of which was used to play a propaganda movie about how the “evil Nazis brainwashed the Germans”. This movie was meant to give people the appropriate reactions to what was visible in the expo, thus keeping the independent thought levels to a minimum.

After trying to watch the short movie for a couple of minutes, I gave up and decided to go see the actual expo, thus being ahead of the crowd. When I entered I instantly recognized the museum’s efforts to make everything look as bleak as possible, despite the magnificence of the exhibits.

When walking around the expo I felt watched the entire time by the museum employees. These employees had been hired to watch over everyone to make sure no one broke any of the rules.

There were some very beautiful and imposing pieces featured in the expo, but I soon realized that a big portion of the expo was not dedicated to the art and design of the Third Reich, but to the Holocaust (in case we somehow forgot about what happened and how very important it is).

Taking my time to take in all of value which was available to me, I found the amount of exhibits lacking, and decided I would try to sneak some pictures before I left, as very little pictures are available online. I waited till no one was watching me and took a couple of pictures for myself. However, on the third picture I was caught and was asked to stop taking pictures and delete the ones I already got in front of the “guard.” I complied and “deleted” the pictures, then decided I had my fill of the expo and left.

The amount of effort put into trying to demonize National Socialism and its art was shocking even to someone who is quite used to it. But, what was worse was the obvious trouble they had gone through in doing it. The material showed the Third Reich as a magnificent state which had striven toward beauty and unity in nature. Had they not put in so much effort trying to denounce all of it, I think many people might have left the expo asking themselves whether if “Nazism” was really so bad after all.

If I were to summarize my thoughts about this expo, I would say it showed clearly the fear we still instill in the people ruling our world. The constant necessity to try and demonize us in every way possible only shows the strength of our worldview.

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