Virtual Museum; Virtual Anti-Semitism

At my university we had a celebration recently to acknowledge with gratitude the gift of a large collection of anti-Semitic books, pamphlets, drawings and posters. You will understand that this is not just run-of the-mill anti-Semitic material. It is splendidly, importantly anti-Semitic material from the period of the Second World War, written by German propagandists of extraordinary ability and illustrated by painters and draftsmen familiar with the powerful images of German expressionist art.

Distinguished guests were present: the Consuls of Poland, France, and Israel. Librarians spoke, the President of the university, the Provost, various educators, and grateful members of the broader community while a continuing presentation on large-screen power point showed dozens of images from the collection, each more compelling, astounding, and hateful than the last. Some of the items from the gift were on display under glass. Especially memorable were the books for children; anti-Semitism for the instruction of kindergarten classes. In a graceful and modest speech, the donor said: “I am humbled to be part of this. To be able to bring this information to this great university and have an opportunity to educate people about history is truly wonderful.”

The gift includes funding for a post-doctoral fellow to prepare the material for dissemination on the Internet. The compelling images we saw that afternoon on the large screen will soon be available to populations everywhere on the globe. The high point of the afternoon was the announcement that our university is about to create a “Virtual Museum of the Holocaust,” that is, a virtual museum of anti-Semitic propaganda.

Simon Wiesenthal says: “The history of man is the history of crimes, and history can repeat. So information is a defence. Through this we can build, we must build, a defence against repetition.” Information is a defence. Let’s hope.


1 Response to “Virtual Museum; Virtual Anti-Semitism”

  1. 1 oonae February 27, 2009 at 1:15 am

    As usual a magnificently understated post. It always takes me a few minutes to figure out what you’re suggesting. And, once I do, I often disagree — in the most friendly way. But this time I’m right with you.

    I love antisemitic propaganda. Nothing like it for exploring the depths of the human psyche. Invaluable, fascinating stuff. But to put a library of it onto the web is a Big Mistake. Has anyone noticed the technological dominance of the lunatic fringe? I don’t know whether it’s because they’re too nuts for employment, but it’s certainly true that a lot of antisemites have time on their hands enough to seek out anything remotely useful to their cause and comment, twisting it hatefully.

    I do not think these archives should be published in this arena.

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