On Tyranny. Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century Intervention

Oct. 1, 2021 until 30. Jan. 30, 2022
With Nora Krug and Timothy Snyder

About the exhibition

The book On Tyranny published in 2017 caused an international sensation. In it the historian and Yale professor Timothy Snyder takes a retrospective look at important moments for democracy in the history of Europe (1918, 1945, 1989) and, with reference to current political events in the United States, underlines that civil society must be constantly vigilant if it is to counter authoritarian threats. Snyder’s precisely formulated proposals for how to withstand group pressure, defend institutions, listen for dangerous words, and check facts … encourage us to ask questions and initiate political discussions – in the best case, they prompt us to become active in the name of a robust democracy.

Born in Karlsruhe, the prize-winning artist and author Nora Krug has lived in New York for almost twenty years. She constantly looks for traces left behind by the Nazi era – traces that embody individual memories – not least in order to understand her own origins and identity better. In her book Heimat. Ein deutsches Familienalbum (Heimat: A German Family Album) Krug traced her own family’s past in literary and graphic terms. Nora Krug has illustrated Snyder’s appeal for action, adding an artistic perspective to his strategies for countering populism and authoritarian leadership. She combines her drawings and hand-written graphic stories with photographs and archive pieces, thus taking a completely new approach to Snyder’s theses, framing them in artistic terms. The graphic edition of On Tyranny. Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century was published on October 5, 2021 by Ten Speed Press.

The exhibition was based on Nora Krug’s illustrations and her examination of historical experiences and contemporary political activity. Quotations from Snyder were juxtaposed with Krug’s original drawings and collages to form an intervention that was shown at the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism. In addition, objects that Nora Krug found at flea markets and in antique stores in the course of her research were displayed. The various chapters of the exhibition were linked by a commentary by Nora Krug on her methods of working.


Oct. 1, 2021 until Jan. 30, 2022

Social Media
#OnTyranny | @nsdoku

Karolina Kühn

Nora Krug

Nora Krug is an illustrator and author whose work has appeared, among others, in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Le Monde diplomatique. She has received several fellowships and prizes and teaches as an Associate Professor of Illustration at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Her book Belonging. A German Reckons with History and Home is an international bestseller

© NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, photo: Edward Beierle

Timothy Snyder

Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale University and ranks among the most eminent intellectuals of the USA. On Tyranny has been translated into more than forty languages and has sold almost half a million copies in the USA alone. Snyder specializes in Eastern European history.

© Jiri Zerzon

Trailer on the exhibition

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“Making-of” by Nora Krug


How does an idea become a sketch and a sketch a finished illustration? In this eight-minute “making of,” Nora Krug, the illustrator of the graphic edition of On Tyranny, gives us a glimpse behind the scenes and shows us the work that goes into creating the graphic memoirs, collage-style collectors albums, historical narratives, and wealth of memories that together make up her extremely imaginative artistic style.

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Additional material on the exhibition

Online program


12. Jan. 2022 | “Be as courageous as you can”

What is the role of resistance in a world where democracy and freedom are at stake? What lessons can we learn from history? Meena Kandasamy and Timothy Snyder have discussed these and more questions revolving around the struggle of an active civil society in politically oppressive regimes.

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