Czech Ad Campaign Confronts Youth With Life Under Nazis | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 27.01.2007
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Czech Ad Campaign Confronts Youth With Life Under Nazis

Prague's Jewish Museum has launched an unusual ad campaign that aims to interest young people in history by reminding them of the fate of Jews before and during World War II.

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The real thing: A Nazi sign banning Jews from using trains

Advertising posters bearing bizarre slogans have just appeared in 80 locations around Prague. They appear to curtail the freedom of randomly chosen parts of society, such as people with freckles.

Prag - Wenzelsplatz

Prague's Wenceslas Square


"People with blonde hair are not permitted to enter cinemas," reads one in the city's central Wenceslas Square. While it may sound ridiculous, the campaign has a serious purpose.

"The main idea is to educate young people and give them basic information about the history of anti-Semitism, especially what happened before the Holocaust here," said Vladimir Hanzel, head of the Education and Cultural Center at Prague's Jewish Museum.

Fake posters, real horror

He added that the new ads aren't based on actual posters during the era of Nazi occupation.

"There were not posters but papers with bans and measures from the authorities," he said, adding that many government agencies and businesses introduced their own bans against Jews.

Deutsche Wehrmacht in Prag Archivbild 1939

Deutsche Wehrmacht in German soldiers moving into Prague on March 15, 1939

But advertising executive Jan Binar, who devised the campaign, said that he tried to evoke the Nazi period with his posters.

"Of course they are in Czech and not in German as they would have been in those days," he said. "But the form, the shape, the letters, the typeface, the colours -- we just tried to stay as authentic as possible."

The posters are black with the "rules," such as "Left-handed people are forbidden to drive motor vehicles and within fourteen days have to give up their driving licence" written on them in yellow.

At the bottom of the poster follows a little explainer.

"Does it seem absurd to you?" it reads. "The prohibition on motor vehicles was applied in the whole protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia for Jewish people during the war."

A per sonal touch

Binar, who approached the museum with the idea for the campaign, said young Czechs today are largely ignorant of the horrors of the past. But is this true?

"I don't think so," said Matej, a student at Prague's Jewish secondary school. "People in Prague are interested in this issue; they are trying to know more about our history, the history of the Jews. And also Roma -- the Roma had the same Holocaust like Jews, the same repression."

Fußgängerzone in Berlin

Everyone is meant to be able to identify with the posters

He added that the style of the poster also worked in his opinion.

"These posters are addressing normal people," he said. "When you look at the poster and you see something about bald people, blonde people -- they are among us. It touches us personally."

The new campaign has been timed to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day on Jan. 27. Organizers say they also plan to get schools involved in the project and to launch it in other Czech cities.

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