FORT WAYNE, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--We’ve been here before, the fine books room at the Allen County Public Library…full of rare literary treasures and the permanent home of our city’s world class collection of Abraham Lincoln documents. On this day though we’re not perusing anything so noble as Lincoln…not by a long shot.
Curt: the picture that you see may not really be the picture that you see. It could be staged and crafted for a particular purpose.
It’s called ‘Photographs From the Life of the Fuhrer’ and though it’s no family photo album, the propagandists who put it together tried to make it look like one. Each of these pictures was sold in a pack of German cigarettes, sold to the German public during the 1930’s and collected much like baseball cards are collected today. This book was printed in 1936 and contains the entire collection, along with stories that put each photo in context…the Fuhrer being adored by the crowd…the Fuhrer being respectful to the elderly…the Fuhrer exhibiting his love of children.
“You see a lot of pictures in here that you never see during World War Two” says Curt Witcher, manager of the Rare Books Collection, “photos of Hitler in a tux, common clothes, with children, with families.”
Deeper into the book we see Hitler greeting world leaders and overseeing the country’s massive military buildup that would culminate in the Second World War. This book was a small cog in a huge propaganda wheel that glorified Hitler and further cemented Nazi rule. 75 years after its publication, it holds some important lessons for us.
“Things aren’t always as they appear,” says Witcher. “It’s always good to be involved in our government locally, state level, national level. Stay involved, go to the meetings and read the literature. Try to get behind the story.
Had the world been more skeptical of propaganda like this in the 1930’s, we might have avoided the terrible sequel to this book that would consume much of the world, in the 1940’s. This is Eric Olson reporting.
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