Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I haven't felt like I have had a ton to write about lately...so I will share an interesting piece of history with anyone who muddles through...

By the way, this information comes from Ann Millen who works at the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial. She spoke at HMH's Max M. Kaplan Summer Institute this past week about Nazi propaganda.

Ann showed us this poster (because of copyright rules I can only post it through a link) and we analyzed it. Take some time to do so yourself...go ahead...I will give you a minute or two...

What sorts of things did you find?

We discussed the couple looking in different directions, the obvious power the man has over the woman, the nourishment of the child at the woman's breast, her dressed in the heritage of the Greek's, the eagle in the background signifying German heritage, we had a particularly enlightening discussion about the sexual undertones in the positioning of the woman and the man...the list goes on and on... And in case you didn't look at the title off to the side, it discusses that this is supposed to be the depiction of the "pure" Aryan family.

We then stopped and looked at the age difference between the man and the woman. The man seems to be much older than the man and this is when Ann slaps a big historical irony right in our faces. This poster was published in 1938 and a very popular actor of the time was Leslie Howard (of Ashley Wilkes fame in Gone With the Wind). Supposedly this man was modeled after Leslie Howard to depict the perfect Aryan father...only problem with that is...Leslie Howard and his family was...any guesses...Jewish! Which means that the Nazi propaganda machine did not research their subjects very well. I love the irony.

For additional intrigue, after the outbreak of the war Howard moved back to England to help the British cause against the Germans. One of his main tasks was to "tour" around Europe as a celebrity and spy while he was there. His death is something of a mystery because his plane was shot down under unusual circumstances. Some say the Germans found out about his spying and thus killed him, others say that he and his bodyguard were mistaken for Churchill and his bodyguard and were shot down by mistake. Who knew that little old Ashley Wilkes had such a role in World War II!

Ok. History nerdiness got the best of me, but this is the kind of thing I get really excited about!

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