Phenomenal Photographs and Artifacts

By Mary-Grace Kelly

While on our class’s excursion to Duke University, I was privileged to see many photos and read many impressive documents, newspaper articles, letters, and books that were both eye opening and shocking. This trip was extremely educational because it provided me with an opportunity to see with my own eyes the activities of hate groups in the past and the present.

On the first table were several items relating to the Nazi organization.  The most shocking item on this table for me were the photographs of rallies organized by the Nazi regime and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Although I have seen pictures of similar rallies before I had never seen the images on full panoramic printouts. These images opened my eyes to how large and monstrous these organizations were. I was also struck by the extreme similarities between the two groups, such as the presence of bands and uniforms. I am baffled that every person in the mass in each photograph truly believed and justified the horrendous acts performed by these destructive groups. Along with the photographs, I was struck by one single sentence in one of the books on the table that stated politics and morals should be separated. I am confused at how any rational human being could say with assurance that these two things do not belong together. Without morals, the politics of any society would be doomed.

On the second table two objects really stood out to me; a newspaper article denying the holocaust and a letter addressed to African Americans from a white author. While reading the headlines of the newspaper, I was left in complete disbelief. Many of the claims were absolutely ridiculous but were presented in a manner that made it seem as if they were fact. For example, they claimed that a women who had been listed as murdered in the concentration camp’s crematorium was actually alive and working. They supported this claim with a photograph of the women who was supposedly once the concentration camp prisoner. Unlike the newspaper, the letter created extreme feeling of disgust after reading it. The claims made by the writer were absurd and infuriating. He identified the Jews as the common enemy and that the segregation of blacks and white would be the only solution. How ignorant can someone be to propose such a ridiculous idea?

On the third table the most recent items were displayed. One of the items was a flyer for an event led by Hutton Gibson. I was shocked that rallies are still occurring in today’s society. Secondly, I was amazed at the flyers attempt to appear legitimate by using a law school endorsement.  Other items on this table that I found alarming were pages for subscriptions to the hate group magazine and flyers to join the groups. I am absolutely flabbergasted that people in today’s world still insist on creating and participating in prejudice organizations.

Overall, the entire experience can be explained with one word “shock.” The many items in the collection continuously provoked emotions of anger, disgust, disbelief, and sadness. Before this I was naïve in that I believed our society would learn from the photographs on the first table and take action to prevent it from every happening again. However, by the third table it became apparent that many individuals and group have not learned from history. I am saddened that hate groups still exist but I am thankful for groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center that take action against such groups.

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Holocaust Denialism and Media: Holocaust Seminar

By Aenia Amin

Today’s trip to Duke University and the Nasher Museum was an enriching and eye-opening experience. Upon arriving at Duke, William Hansen, the curator of the Rubenstein Library, and Kate Collins, a research librarian, welcomed us and guided us through the beautiful Gothic architecture that composed campus, towards the prepared exhibit on Nazi propaganda and anti-Semitism. Based on 90 boxes of material donated by the Southern Poverty Law Center and by private donors, these two individuals prepared a sample of the materials focusing on Nazi propaganda, anti-Semitism and racism, ranging from the 1930s to 2004. There were a variety of sources, from originally bound books to newspaper articles and flyers. All of the pieces were fascinating and made me realize that we have penetrated only the surface of the Holocaust, an event in the ocean of racism. This interdisciplinary event is correlated with hatred and prejudice worldwide and cross-culturally.
One facet of anti -Semitism is that the average citizen is frequently exposed to it by the public media, magazines, flyers, and popular culture. This astounded me as we hear about this hatred multiple times daily; yet, we often ignore it. However, it unconsciously shapes our views. For example, one of the flyers was advertising a conference devoted to proclaiming the superiority of the white or Caucasian race and denoting other minorities, featuring Hunter Gibson (the father of Mel Gibson) as a keynote speaker on his New World Order conspiracy. Hosted by the Freedom Law School in California, this event took place in 2004! David Duke’s theories about the Jews being responsible for the 9/11 attacks also illustrate the modern day anti-Semitism that is one of the many banes of society. Even music was utilized as a form of propaganda against minorities by the White Aryan Resistance Party. The National Socialist White People’s Party, now eradicated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, frequently implemented rallies and conferences to target the general public.
Secondly, while Holocaust denialism has died down since the 1980s, it is still prevalent, evidenced by the Texan-based newspaper and other articles and Zionist propaganda in the exhibit. These sources were formatted as authentic academic journals, newspaper articles, or advertisements in an effort to lend credibility. Overall, the strategies employed by these racist organizations effectively targeted the average citizen; however, an educated citizen could easily discern through the falsehoods and promote the betterment of society. All one needed was education and a sense of justice and conscience. These are the lessons that I gleaned from this enriching experience, and I intend to share this knowledge to promote awareness about combating the anti-Semitism and racism that plagues our society.

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The Rubenstein Rare Book Collection: Holocaust Seminar

By Rebecca Wagner

Stepping foot on the campus of Duke University for the first time allowed me to understand why it is known as a prestigious university. The atmosphere and architecture of the gothic style buildings were breathtaking. I could never imagine a more beautiful campus. The pictures I have seen of the school do not do the university justice. Although the point of the trip was not to take a tour of Duke University I enjoyed getting a chance to walk around campus and become engulfed in its beauty.

Furthermore, the trip itself was very informative. I enjoyed getting a chance to see the exhibit of the Rubenstein Rare Book Collection that the curator was able to put together for us. The range of information and dates that the articles covered proves that discrimination of races ranged in multiple ways. The content and pictures that the documents included astonished me. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that the Klu Klux Klan was able to take a group picture in the middle of the day in 1927 with no problems. I can’t begin to think what would happen if this was to take place today. Also, the one book that really made me step back and appreciate the rare book collection was the book full of survivor’s stories that was bound by a prisoner of war’s clothing. Being able to put my hands and eyes on this book was touching. The book made everything that I had ever heard about the Holocaust become even more of a reality. It seemed that I was holding the blood, sweat, and tears of the prisoners in between my palms. The last articles that stood out the most to me throughout the exhibit were the newspapers written by W.A.R., I had a hard time believing that these newspapers were really published and distributed amongst Americans. The information that was written in the publications was awful. For example, inside they were selling “racial stickers” and CD’s with “racial songs” on them. Another thing that stood out in the papers was the statement that they approve of colored people having abortions and they push for them to have them, however it is unforgivable if someone that is “one of them” has an abortion. I could not believe the graphic language and connotations that were made within this text. However, I was glad that the newspaper was within the collection because to me that meant that the Southern Poverty Law had stopped W.A.R.’s awful work.

I applaud The Southern Poverty Law for their efforts and work that they have done thus far. The hatred in this world is disgusting and should be put to an immediate stop. I often forget that these hate groups still exist today however the exhibit showed that this is still as much a factor today that it was years ago. Duke University is fortunate to be able to house this information from The Southern Poverty Law in their collection. I am glad I was able to go on this enriching trip with our seminar group to help further my knowledge on the Holocaust and other hate groups.

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A Reflection on the Duke Exhibit

By Jeanann Woodard           

As we pulled up on the icy day, we were greeted by the majestic chapel stretching above the trees.  While I was admiring the architecture, I could not help but think of the religion that most commonly used the chapel.  It brought to mind how even though Christianity has caused many positive things, it can be taken to a dangerous extreme and be used to falsely support stereotypes against people of other religions.  Then, the exhibit in the library furthered my thoughts of how easily people can twist things to make them seem more appealing to the majority of the population.

Our guide warned us at the beginning that some of the things we would see would shock us but that we should keep in mind that the purpose of the Southern Poverty Law Firm is to ensure these hate groups and publications are brought to an end.  One of the most shocking things I saw in the newspaper WAR was the things they had for sale.  There was a T-shirt with a cleverly disguised swastika made of interlocking arms and hands.  Also, there was a page of stickers like one that was trying to convey what they believed an African-American mind was made up of.  The heading even used a derogatory word; then the picture just made it even worse as the illustrator portrayed the man’s lips as half the size of his face.  The three big sections of the brain were divided into stereotypes such as craving watermelon, desire for gold chains, drugs, alcohol and the like, and criminal motives, leaving only pea-sized sections for virtues such as responsibility.  Also, the way people slip some of these stereotypes to best improve their appeal in is unbelievable such as a journal finding or pride in your race.  Some things were just blatantly out there, such as the entire Spotlight magazine.  When I saw the comic claiming that the truth was the only thing that had be harmed by the crematoria, I could not believe the lengths they went to in order to try to justify the burning of Jews “to prevent disease spreading.”  Plus, the picture of the Nazis and the picture of the Ku Klux Klan in such public places are disheartening to think people simply watched these groups take control.

Another memorable thing Patrick, Kendra, and I got to experience was meeting a student at the university over lunch.  Introducing himself as “Edison like Thomas Edison,” what we had learned early in the day about the famous inventor’s anti-Semitic views popped into my thoughts.  Through the rest of our conversation, we were able to learn a lot about Duke as well as what high schools were like in Edison’s hometown of Beijing, China.  I especially enjoyed learning more about these differences because it is very important to broaden your worldview in order to avoid another event like the Holocaust.  As history has shown, when you are ignorant to other cultures, you will more easily fall victim to propaganda and be largely swayed by the stereotypes you hear.

In the Nasher Art Museum, when I heard from one of the curators the background of the artist of a set of black and white works, I was not surprised to hear that when Hitler came to power he made certain to remove the female professor from the art institute.  Knowing that Hitler applied to many different art schools, and he was denied by all, leaves you wondering if his forced removal of the female professor partly stemmed from damaged pride.  Another shocking thing from the museum portion of our trip was one of the Motley paintings that featured many stereotypes.  Because he had African-American roots, I was surprised to see him portray African-American males with huge clown-like lips, women, as the caption read, with “voluptuous” shapes, and a child with messy braids.  This whole day brought to light for me many things I now feel I was sheltered from and would find hard to believe if I had not seen it.  In my classroom, this will further pushes me to make sure my students one day know the truth behind history.

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Duke Excursion

by Patrick Banzon

The trip to Duke University had events that colorfully illustrated the themes and events of Nazi Germany and the prominence of anti-Semitism. The information of the birth, life, and death of the National Socialist Party was shocking, unsurprisingly. The lasting impact of how Nazism affect lives of the human race was foreseeable. To be objective and unbiased is difficult for something that ultimately test a human being’s morals. Emotions immediately flustered the minds of the students. Ultimately, the excursion to Duke University opened up new questions on topics about the Holocaust and human life, itself.

The first stop to Purdue Library at Duke University was the main event during the excursion. There an exhibit was set up displaying a small portion of the archives the university has collected of the years. In the portion of the archive, letters, journals, books, magazines, pamphlets all had either history or propaganda of Nazism and extreme white supremacy. It is ironic and interesting that there is so much history and actual events and so much propaganda and blatant lies and exaggerations all in the same exhibit.

What was really impactful was the prevalent anti-Semitism and racism, especially towards the Blacks. The interesting thing is that it is still predominant in some areas today. As history has depicted about the horrible accounts humans has done to other humans, there are still people who still put others down extensively through race. It is a sad fact, but due to human nature and error will probably never be eradicated. One magazine approached the new generation of the technology age by combining anti-Semitism with video games and music. It also condemned famous actors and singers that had Jewish roots. Other articles somehow tried to connect tragedies with Jewish evil conspiracies. In summary, all these documents displayed a immense hatred of Jews and others unlike the “True White Race”.

The next part of the trip was to the Nasher Museum of Duke University. Here, modern art takes the whole building as it surrounds the asymmetrical, contemporary type of architecture. There was also a few paintings from artists that lived through WWI and Nazi Germany. It depicted the grief, stress, and anxiety in a mother in Germany. Though it was filled with emotion, the paintings were in monochromatic. It was one of those paintings that meant a lot more due to the meaning.

Overall, the excursion to Duke University was very insightful and informative. It was enjoyable to see a group of students and a handful of scholars take a trip back into Nazism and its influence on humanity. Along with a magnificent bus, great food, entertaining company, and an escape from classes, this is a trip that should happen every semester in this class.

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