German Jewish leader welcomes Hitler exhibition

AP News
Posted: Oct 15, 2010 9:17 AM
German Jewish leader welcomes Hitler exhibition

A German Jewish leader welcomed a new exhibition in Berlin exploring the Adolf Hitler personality cult that helped the Nazis win and hold power, saying Friday that it takes a good approach to a difficult issue.

"Hitler and the Germans _ Nation and Crime," which runs through Feb. 6 at the German Historical Museum, is the first exhibition in the capital to focus so firmly on Hitler's role _ another step in the erosion of taboos concerning depictions of the Nazi era.

"I think it's a good exhibition _ it is a serious approach to the theme, which is without doubt difficult to deal with," Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews, told AP Television News as the show opened to the public.

The exhibition portrays the Nazis' dual approach of making the German masses feel included in their movement while excluding those who they had identified as enemies, such as Jews, Gypsies, gays and the disabled. It illustrates the German masses' willingness to support those policies.

It juxtaposes items such as busts of Hitler and Nazi-era toys with artifacts from concentration camps and footage of events such as the book-burning that followed Hitler's rise to power.

The exhibition "is happening at the right time," Kramer said.

He pointed to a recent debate over a book claiming German society was being made "dumber" by Muslim immigrants as evidence of how, even now, "the lower middle class can be seduced ... (and) its fears pandered to."

The book, written by a former board member of Germany's central bank, has become a best-seller and reignited a debate about the difficulties of integrating immigrants.

Kramer said he worried that the people who might have most to learn from the Hitler exhibition wouldn't go to see it, "but that remains to be seen."

Jetin Habstaat, a tourist from Oslo, Norway, said that the show offers "a brilliant exhibition of contrasts."

"One can see the propaganda but also the opposition," he said.