Today I gave a tour of Filming the Camps- John Ford, Samuel Fuller, George Stevens: From Hollywood to Nuremberg which is on exhibit at the Atlanta History Center. The tour was for a group of eight students from a local Jewish school in Atlanta. The first part of the tour was a dialog session that discussed who could have participated in the Holocaust. Towards the end of the dialog one student commented on how propaganda and negative imagery of Jewish people contributed to Germans being complicit in the Holocaust. I wanted him to elaborate so I asked him “In what way?” Pausing for a moment to think, he said “Well you know like stereotypes, like the ones today about Latinos being illegals.” Another student who was quiet through much of the discussion chimed in “Yeah like Donald Trump! He is encouraging Nationalism using negative imagery.” My head whipped around as a third student added to the discussion “There are stereotypes of Black people who are thugs and criminals which is not only not true but hateful.”
For the first time in a very long time I was left speechless and had little to say. From a discussion about the Holocaust these very bright students made the connection between nationalism and propaganda not only played a role during the 1930s and 40s but how it is relevant today. They saw how propaganda, negative imagery, and nationalism can lead to the marginalization of people who look, act, or believe something different than the majority.
This was an amazing group of students and one of the best tours I have had. I hope for there to be more experiences like this in the future.