17:05 GMT04 August 2021
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    The exhibition, which Dutch anti-fascists and Jewish communities fear may promote Nazism, is sold out for the coming weeks.

    The Design Museum Den Bosch has banned its visitors from taking photographs at its exhibition “Design in the Third Reich”. Curators of the museum say they want to be sure that their exhibits are not taken out of context.

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    A local artist created a swastika shaped carpet and called on visitors to wipe their feet on it as they enter the museum. The exhibition itself covers two floors. First, visitors are offered to watch a movie about the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Exhibit items range from the very small – propaganda posters, photos, stamps and cutlery with swastikas – to works of Hitler’s favourite sculptor Arno Beker and a massive piece of furniture that once was in Hitler’s work room.
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    The Volkswagen Beetle is the only object that curators have allowed to be photographed and take selfies with. The exhibition also features such chilling items as the architectural designs for the Auschwitz gas chambers and a hand-drawn outline of the Warsaw ghetto.

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    Glorification of Nazism or a warning to future generations?

    ​The controversy surrounding the exhibition began as early as February of 2018, when museum director Timo De Rijk announced plans for it. The management of the museum understood that the exhibit's theme is a very thorny issue, and the museum held talks with the local Jewish community and organizations representing Jews in the Netherlands in order to address their concerns.

    ”The Design of the Third Reich exhibition shows design as an instrument in the hands of the ultimate forces of darkness. The Nazis were masters in using design to achieve their goal, to both convince and destroy huge numbers of people. Design Museum Den Bosch is a design museum with a critical attitude. If you wholeheartedly want to be able to say “this never again”, you must take time to analyse how the influencing processes worked at the time. That is what this exhibition does”, the museum said in a statement.

    However, left wing and anti-fascist groups fear that the exhibition will glorify Nazism. They say too little attention is paid to the political context in the museum. Activists from the local communist party staged a protest at the entrance of Den Bosch, handing flyers to passers-by and urging them not to visit the museum.

    ​The management has taken measures to improve security. Extra cameras and personnel were placed in every room and only 50 visitors are allowed to enter the museum at a time.

    “You should be face to face with this material to understand the culture and the witchcraft of that era. Never hide something away and deny it. Understand it. That’s my message”, said the museum’s director.

    More than 10 thousand tickets have been sold since the exhibition opened on September 8. Moreover, “Design of the Third Reich” is sold out for the coming weeks. One visitor said the exhibition has a very powerful message that terror can come in a beautiful disguise. “Design of the Third Reich” runs until 19 January 2020.

    Nazism, Third Reich, Netherlands, Auschwitz, selfies, exhibition
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