DEJA VU?!


Target Group:

High school students in informal education frameworks.


Aims:

1. To impart information on Haider's inclusion in the Austrian coalition government, and to examine the problematic nature of his various statements.
2. To emphasize the danger of uncritical submission to the temptations of charismatic leadership.
3. To draw the necessary conclusions regarding response, based on the comparison of the reactions from around the world, in general, and Israel, in particular.


Procedure:

1. Trigger

An excerpt from the film "Cabaret". Use the scene depicting a small outdoor cafe, where a handsome young Aryan is singing the song "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" in a clear, sweet voice. A swastika is emblazoned on his sleeve;. the audience is deeply moved; all rise simultaneously to join him in song. One old man remains seated...

Discussion:

How did the audience react?
Why were they so moved?
Why did the old man remain seated?
What are the dangers of unopposed charismatic leadership?

2. Trigger Film

An excerpt from Walt Disney's "Fantasia". Use the Magician's Assistant, where Mickey Mouse dreams of controlling the world. He commands the broom to fill buckets with water, but while he falls asleep the broom runs amok, and then refuses to obey him. When he smashes the broom, it replicates itself, and floods the cellar with water.

Discussion:

    •  When might a leader lose control of his or her supporters?
       
    • When may the demand for absolute order be re-directed for other ends?
       
    • Are we confronting a situation today, where the "Golem" [artificial being] could turn against its master?
       
    • Promises of an illusory future and the temptation of quick solutions to complex issues - is their price freedom?
       
    • Food for thought: the Nazi regime also started by cloaking itself in a campaign for public order and government. It was only later that the winds of totalitarianism began to blow.

3. Attitude Statements

based on remarks by Joerg Haider on various occasions over the past decade.

Option A:
Statements are distributed to participants. Options for response are pinned on the walls of the room. Each participant chooses the response he or she prefers, and the resulting groups of participants prepare response statements to all of Haider's pronouncements.
Haider's statements:
 "An orderly employment policy was carried out in the Third Reich..." (June 1991)
 

    • ...that the Matthausen death camp was a "punishment camp", ie, for criminals (May 1995)
       
    • "It is not fair if all the money from the tax coffers goes to Israel" (April 1995)
       
    • "The Waffen-SS was a part of the Wehrmacht [German army] and hence it deserves all the honor and respect of the army in public life." (December 1995)
       
    • "The Africans who are here are drug dealers and they seduce our youth." (1996)
       
    • That: We must learn from the exemplary organization of the Nazi regime (1996)
       
    • That: One third of Austria's foreign workers should be expelled to prevent inundation (May 1997)
       
    • Election slogans: "Stop the Foreign Infiltration!" (1999)
       
    • That: Churchill was one of the greatest war criminals of the 20th century, because he bombed innocent civilians in Dresden (February 2000)

Responses:

    •  P. Spiegel, leader of the German Jewish community: "We must ensure that democracy is not once again trampled underfoot, in a parallel with Austrian-born Hitler's rise to power in Germany in 1933. There is no need for drastic steps, but we must certainly remain alert and keep our finger on the pulse."
       
    • Much ado about nothing. Although Haider's opinions may be extreme, we need not fear an uncontrolled explosion, and there is definitely no call for comparisons with the Nazi regime.
       
    • The extremist right-wing which is gaining momentum throughout Europe must be eradicated. All contacts with the Austrian government must be severed, ambassadors must be recalled, and sanctions must be as an ethical minimum, to protect the rights of persecuted minorities.

Option B:

    • Participants are divided into Response Teams and asked to respond.
      For example:
       The Israeli Government (taking into consideration the differences of opinion within the government - Naomi Blumenthal vs Rabbi Melchior, David Levy , etc.
       
    • The European Union (14 countries have already threatened to sever ties with Austria...)
       
    • The Austrian people (15,000 have taken to the street in protest, Chancellor Schlissel's wife threatened to leave him if he included Haider in the coalition)
       
    • Other ideas...

4. The Bible (Tanach) and History

The Third Reich is not the only model of the development and administration of a totalitarian regime. We can find it at the very dawn of Jewish history, in the era of the Pharaohs of Egypt.

    •  Participants should arrange these verses from Exodus, Chapter 1 (Shemot) in their chronological order:
a. Now there arose a new king over Egypt who knew not Joseph (verse 8)
b. And he said unto his people (9)
c. Let us deal wisely with them... therefore they set taskmasters over them (9-11)
d. The Egyptians made the children of Israel labor for them (13)
e. Every son that is born shall be cast into the river (22)
    •  Participants analyse these verses in the political context:
      The comparison is clearly evident:

a. A new leader brings a new message, painting a picture of a rosy new future. The leader is charismatic, dynamic and enthusiastic.
b. He speaks to the people, in their language, at eye level. His message is clear and simple - demagoguery, propaganda etc.
c. He institutes discrimination through legislative cover, ostensibly for the benefit of his people.
d. The persecuted minority group are used for forced labor, under the pretext of a national economic recovery plan.
e. From xenophobia and persecution he proceeds to the stage of genocide.

5. Review:

(Additional trigger scenes can be introduced here, e.g. "Lion King", "Fantasia" or "The Wave")

Discussion: Operative methods of response - what is right and appropriate?


 

 

Share                   PRINT    
31 Jul 2007 / 16 Av 5767 0