Young designers make mistakes in favor of Third Reich

43638.jpegDesigner's error has nearly caused a large-scale international scandal. A regrettable incident was hushed up, but the aftertaste lingered. It is of particular importance that is not the first time young designers make mistakes in favor of the Third Reich.

The organizers of the World Biathlon Championship held in Khanty-Mansiysk had to apologize profusely to the participants and sports federations for the creative home-grown designers who decided to decorate the press center with the designer pieces made of grass with elements of old newspapers in different languages. It was the printed retro products that have caused the scandal. Among other print materials, the guests were invited to familiarize themselves with the German Der Angriff and Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of the 1930-1940s.

Der Angriff, for example, created by Joseph Goebbels in 1926, was virtually his personal mouthpiece published primarily with the funds from the party coffers of NSDAP and marketed as an anti-Semitic and anti-Communist newspaper.

Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung in political terms was a more modest publication than Der Angriff, but the headline on the front page reprint "The invasion has begun," dated June 1944, also leaves no doubt as to the position of its editorial.

The organizers had to urgently remove the design pieces out of sight and apologize. Irina Tkachenko, CEO of concert and theatrical center Ugra-Classic that hosted some of the championship events, explained that the designer does not speak foreign languages, and therefore did not understand what these newspapers were.

This is a rather bizarre explanation because any ad layout or design element has to go through at least a few approval stages. Yet, the organization needed a nameless scapegoat.

In fact, this story could even be funny if such incidents did not occur on a regular basis.

In April of the last year designers and printers from the city of Perm made a unique "gift" to the veterans of World War II for the 65th anniversary of the victory celebration, releasing a poster depicting veterans receiving congratulations from the soldiers of Wehrmacht.

In 2008, Chelyabinsk designers, while executing the order of the regional government to manufacture festive banners for Victory Day, placed a photograph on the banners where German soldiers were posing against the backdrop of a damaged Russian tank.

Postcards for February 23 (the Day of the Defender of the Motherland) display German Messerschmitt, German Tiger tanks, and American battleships F-16. There was a scandal in Penza where students were offered a notebook executed in a patriotic spirit, reminding that "the best pilots, the aces of World War I, are considered to be Germans, and that those German pilots who fought with us on the Eastern Front and shot down our planes are the best of the best".

Certainly, there will always be errors in printed materials. However, a typo is one thing, and an ideological diversion, albeit through a misunderstanding, is another.

Contemporary designers, who have no time to look for the appropriate materials, can be excused to a certain extent. Their customers who, too, are busy people and have no time to study the contents of postcards can be excused as well. However, all this is true when it comes to minor technical details the designer may not be knowledgeable about. In this case we are talking about genetic memory, which seems to increasingly fail.

The Russian prosecutor's office is conducting a relentless struggle against the distributors of extremist literature on the web. The website of the Ministry of Justice displays a list of extremist materials that currently includes 800 items. In some cases, decisions of the courts can be argued because the ban falls on the books that are of particular interest to historians or writers. Generally, this struggle is somewhat localized since this kind of literature is designed for a very narrow circle of the supporters of the views proposed by the authors.

Of course, this does not mean that there should not be any counteraction towards the presumptuous writers. It is the job of law enforcement agencies to prevent these extremist activities. However, there seems to be another issue.

There could be much more examples similar to the ones described above. However, there are doubts that these blunders are noticed and corrected. In the case of Penza city notebooks, for example, the product had been on the shelves for three months before someone noticed some oddities in the design. Most of the consumers either have not paid particular attention to it or considered the posted statement perfectly normal. In the same way the anonymous designers do not see any difference between the Soviet soldiers and the Nazi invaders, guided in their choice by purely pragmatic factors (quality of the photos, for example). The indifference of the society often presents a far greater risk than that imposed by individual admirers of Hitler.

Igor Kulagin

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov