While looking for other types of controversies that might be found in museums, I came across this article that really made me think on it for a minute. Disclaimer, I still don’t have an answer for it. What I found isn’t a type of controversy, but it was a controversial take that a museum decided to go down.

Verzetsmueseum, or Amsterdam’s Resistance Museum has been around since 1985 and has a history of showcasing the efforts that were made by the Dutch resistance during the German occupation during WWII. However, around the time of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, they made an exhibit that not only showcased people who resisted Nazi occupation, but also people who worked with the Nazi’s. The reason that the museum gave for this was to offer “new perspectives, a different emphasis. By showing the choice these people made [to collaborate] you highlight how courageous it was to choose to resist.” Obviously, many people were not too happy with this idea, saying that they were trying to humanize both heroes and villains. They also argued that not everything is black and white, and there are grey areas that also have to be shown as well. They also argued that Dutch Nazis are also a part of Dutch history, and that they need to be shown as well (not in a positive way, but like in a this is also apart of history way).

The reason that I thought a lot about this issue is because they do make some good arguments, but there are also parts that I don’t agree with. I do think that it’s important to teach about the good and bad sides of history, but I’m still unsure that it’s the responsibility of a resistance museum to be the ones who take on that challenge of showcasing Nazi supporters. I also think that the timing of the exhibit is a little tone deaf, I don’t think showcasing Nazi supporters around International Holocaust Remembrance Day was a very smart decision on their part.

So what do you guys think? Was it the job of the Verzetsmuseum to show both Nazi fighters and supporters? What do you think about museums showing both the good and the bad sides of history? Or do you think that giving bad people a spot in a museum would be giving them too much credit or humanizing them too much.

Article if anyone is interested.

Verzetsmuseum (Amsterdam Resistance Museum)

2 Thoughts to “The Good and The Bad”

  1. Korovin Ellis

    While I agree that the timing of the exhibit was not the best, I personally agree with the the directors intentions in including Nazi supporters in the exhibit since it accomplishes something very important. It acknowledges that their is a difference between the people who supported an ideology and the ideology itself. All to often we draw point to Nazi’s as an example of pure evil, and refuse to acknowledge them as people, without considering that many people who served as Nazi’s we unaware of the full extent of Hitler and the Nazi leaderships atrocities, or who would eventually change sides. People are never just one thing and reducing people to a single quality or part of their lives, regardless of how terrible that quality or part of their lives is at its core dehumanizing.

  2. Amy Gauger

    The timing could definitely have been better, for sure. In fact, that timing is kind of a Marketing 101 example of what NOT to do. But I’m torn on the exhibit itself. On one hand, history isn’t comfortable at times. It’s not meant to be. It’s meant to represent the truth, and this was an unfortunate but real truth. Perhaps it is easier for people now to realize the enormous amount of peer pressure went into joining the Nazi Party by making the exhibit reflect this, I’m not sure. Poor taste, definitely, but it does give you something to think about. I suppose it succeeded in that regard!

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