Statement by Ambassador Antje Leendertse at the opening of the exhibition “#fakeimages – Unmasking the Dangers of Stereotypes”, 25 January 2023

26.01.2023 - Speech

In this week of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust – the victims of unprecedented atrocities committed by Nazi Germany – allow me to join Melissa Fleming in welcoming you to the opening of this very timely exhibition – #fakeimages. It is a privilege to be among the hosts of this evening and I am deeply grateful to our partners, the Belgian Permanent Mission to the UN, the United Nations Outreach Programme on the Holocaust, Kazerne Dossin and the Arthur Langerman Foundation for the excellent cooperation that made this event possible.

I feel particularly honored by the presence of Arthur Langerman here with us tonight. Arthur Langerman is a Holocaust survivor. His father was murdered in Auschwitz and he lost nearly all his family in the Shoah. Mr. Langerman has dedicated his life to the mission of understanding the origins of anti-Semitic hatred and gathering historic evidence of antisemitism. His invaluable collection is the basis for this exhibition.

Mr. Langerman, thank you for being here.

The horrific examples of anti-Semitic hate propaganda displayed here behind me are a reminder of my countries’ historic responsibility – this propaganda helped to pave the way to genocide. Germany is firmly committed to combatting hate speech as a lesson from our own history.

That said, I find that the great merit of this exhibition is that it reaches beyond the all-important lesson of never again. It makes us more aware of the underlying mechanisms of propaganda and disinformation to the point that it makes us realize our own susceptibility to manipulation through stereotypical images. In a world as diverse, complex and connected as ours, the dangers of stereotypes feeding propaganda, conspiracy theories and fake news are very real. It is worth every effort to reveal them and the makers of #fakeimages set an impressive example of how this can be done.

The German Federal Foreign Office supported this exhibition and I wish Kazerne Dossin and the Arthur Langerman foundation that #fakeimages will attract many visitors, here in New York and beyond.

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