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Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in Germany
The Typography of Terror: Posters in Munich 1933 - 1945

The Typography of Terror: Posters in Munich 1933 - 1945
MUNICH  •  Münchner Stadtmuseum  •  Ongoing

As the "Capital City of the Movement" Munich was the center of Nazi ideology from the party's earliest days. Munich's prominence is reflected in posters that showcased Hitler, displayed the power of the Nazi regime and held out the promise of a "Volksgemeinschaft” or racially unified community in which the interests of the individual would be strictly subordinate to those of the nation. During the Nazi period nearly all posters contained a political message; they constantly drove home to the population the ruling party's objectives and values. They were deliberately used to stage-manage the dictatorship; their purpose was to make Nazi ideology emotionally compelling.

The exhibition contains over 100 posters from different walks of life such as politics, the arts and business that were put up in Munich between 1933 and 1945; most were designed and printed in the city. They capture what was happening at the time they were produced, they provide information about how National Socialism rule evolved and how it was structured; and they document the political and social models of the day. They also give an insight into the pictorial representation of the Nazi dictatorship and its inherent components: violence and extermination.

The exhibition centers on the design and materials used in the posters to convey the propaganda message. The typography is as faithful a mirror of ideological conviction as the careful matching of image and the printed word. The posters vividly illustrate the "corporate design" of Nazism. By displaying them critically in their setting their manipulative intent is revealed; thus we see the power of the images in context and are no longer awed by them.

Neither the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) to political power nor broad public support for National Socialism can be explained by poster propaganda alone. Indeed the posters are one – albeit an important one – among many components used to establish and consolidate the National Socialist dictatorship. The images in the posters were to trigger a reaction and sow the seeds of Nazi ideology in the public's conscience. Passion and violence were the twin foundations of propaganda, for which posters were important tools.

In the days of the Nazi "struggle" before 1933 poster artists such as Felix Albrecht and Hans Schweitzer had to a great extent created the image of the Nazi party by using violent and radical visual language. When the Nazi party moved from claiming to be a militant "party of struggle" to a "party of the people and the nation" with broad support, such language became less important in the propaganda images of the dictatorship. From then on the official party line was in the hands of well-established graphic artists such as Ludwig Hohlwein and Wilhelm Jakob Engelhardt.

Münchner Stadtmuseum Website

Contact: Münchner Stadtmuseum
Photography Collection
St.-Jakobs-Platz 1
80331 Munich
Tel: (49) (0)89 233 22 370

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