Nazi Book Burning


Books represent humanity at
its best and its worst. To burn books is simply a fundamental
repression of ideas. I mean, what can a book do? And why is it so
dangerous that it needs to be physically annihilated? In 1933, the National Socialist German Workers
Party, called the Nazis for short, came to power in Germany and established a dictatorship under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. The Nazis intended to re-arm Germany and to reorganize the German state on the principle that the German ethnic group or race was superior to
all others in Europe. They suppressed all dissent within Germany, making it a crime to criticize the regime. The newly established Ministry of
Propaganda and Enlightenment set up various chambers to control specific aspects of German culture such as art, literature, theater, film, music, virtually all forms of entertainment and all forms of dissemination of news. In 1933, in April, Nazi German students decided to organize a nationwide book burning program to eliminate foreign influence,
to purify German culture as they saw it. So you have committees of students
meeting with professors together deciding what categories of books in
these university libraries would count as un-German. They didn’t see
themselves as suppressing culture. They saw themselves as advancing Aryan German culture. I remember very distinctly a conversation between my parents and some friends who were all shocked that a nation
like the Germans, an educated, highly intelligent nation,
would burn books. Books never hurt anybody. The event that the students planned
occurred on May 10, 1933. In each German university city, thirty-four of them in all, thousands of people gathered together at
a public place in which books that had been confiscated either by the students
themselves or by Nazi Party officials, often with the help of police, were
brought and dumped in a pile. Student leaders exhorted their followers and the
listening crowds to swear an oath by the fire, to destroy and combat subversive and
un-German literature. “For the national treason against our
soldiers in World War I, we’re burning Hemingway’s books.”
–Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minister himself spoke at the book burning in Berlin. It is amazing to me the variety of books that was burned on that night and thereafter.
-Among the authors whose books were burned were Ernest Hemingway…both Mann brothers,
Thomas and Heinrich…
–There’s the German writer, Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote the famous book All Quiet on the Western Front… Helen Keller… Jack London, the American nature writer…
There’s very little that unites all of these books really except that they were all
considered dangerous by the Nazis. A grand total of the number of volumes,
perhaps best estimates would be between eighty or ninety
thousand volumes. For weeks afterwards, books were confiscated from libraries, from bookshops, and from private
collections. In 1939, the Nazi regime initiated what became
the Second World War. During the course of this war, the Nazis begin to implement their population policy, a priority element of which was the
annihilation of six million Jews on the European continent in a mass murder, a genocide that we now call the Holocaust. I was about 11 when i read the diary of Anne Frank.
And it was translated into Persian. Reading about Anne Frank and millions of
other Iranians reading Anne Frank, they discover that they are that little girl. And
that what happened to that little girl was a supreme act of injustice. And so they connect to her in away that
no political sermon, or propaganda could affect. The first thing every totalitarian regime does, along
with confiscation and mutilation of reality, is
confiscation of history and confiscation of culture. I think they
all happen, almost simultaneously. And they surely happened in my experience
when I was living in Iran. For me it’s both heartbreaking and, quote unquote, a sort of badge of honor that my book is not allowed to
be published in Iran. It has been translated into thirty-five languages
and not in Persian. Really all literature is dangerous to a regime
that fears the free flow of ideas. Because the literature in its most
fundamental way is meant to forge connections among human beings.
–Because you don’t know where it takes you. Knowledge is always unpredictable, there is always a risk. It is like
Alice jumping down that hole, running after that white rabbit, not knowing
where she goes. And for tyrants, control is the main
thing. They don’t like this unpredictability, they don’t want the citizens to connect to the unknown parts of
themselves, of their past, and to connect to the world.
–For a totalitarian regime this is perhaps the most dangerous thing. Because these regimes are predicated on the idea that the people within them will resign themselves the thinking that this is all there is. And that
there aren’t any other options. I think the shame is ours, is everyone’s. We all have to think that as humans we share the best and worst, and that as human beings what happened then can happen again.
–How serious those warning signs were taken is exemplified by my mother, who, when I asked her if we had to worry
about a guy like Hitler, she said, “No. We are living in a democracy. We have the protection of the
police. Nobody’s going to hurt us.” So talk about warning signs, there were plenty of them. Did w
Did we take them seriously? My family didn’t. Never believed that Germans would stoop so low that they would implement the threats which one fanatic uttered… And so, our own life went from bad to worse and it culminated in July of 1942, when we were arrested and sent to a concentration camp. To make this clear, it was a life without hope. The only thing that they cannot put in jail, or prevent from physically leaving, is your mind, is your
imagination. That cannot be captured. But the idea of freedom should be kept alive, even if it’s
between two people or three people. Talk about it, think about it, live about it, and hope
about it.

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23 thoughts on “Nazi Book Burning”

  1. bstarzewski says:

    We need to take these warnings seriously today.
    The twisting of history and even science is all around us.

  2. bstarzewski says:

    "The first thing every totalitarian regime does along with confiscation and mutilation of reality is confiscation of history and confiscation of culture…..
    Because knowledge is unpredictable. You dont know where it takes you.
    And for tyrants, control is the main thing!"
    "They want the people to resign themselves.
    They want people to think that this is all there is…"

  3. bstarzewski says:

    It is perhaps ironic that an Iranian is speaking here.
    Early in the war Iran was the refuge for Poles fleeing both Hitler and Stalin and the rallying point for the creation of Anders Army – which became the Polish 2nd corp.

  4. Aure Ylonen says:

    that's so irrelevant…

  5. Otto Lund says:

    abeldanger net

  6. YagoOrwell says:


  7. Cybermat47 says:

    It tells us a lot that they burnt All Quiet on the Western Front and attacked cinemas where the movie was being shown. War is something to look forward to, until it happens to you, or at least until you watch or read a German book/movie like All Quiet on the Western Front or Das Boot.

  8. Prairielander says:

    Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people.

  9. Phillip H George says:

    Thank You Very Much, Well Done!

  10. imSean Avery` says:

    Look at it in color

  11. MaxRideWizardLord says:

    Which books they actually burning anyway.

  12. Jo Buck says:

    ISIS Burns 8000 Rare Books and Manuscripts in Mosul

  13. Stella Maris says:

    “Books are easily destroyed. But words will live as long as people can remember them.”

    ― Tahereh Mafi, Unravel Me

  14. Valery J Kulakov says:

    Thanks for posting! Berlin, 5th Schwat 5776/2016. Shabbat Shalom!

  15. Born2BWild says:

    “Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen": "Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people."
    -Heinrich Heine

  16. My Opinion says:

    "When you cut out a man's tongue, you make his words matter that much more"

  17. Faraz Ahmed says:

    why did he burn the books? he burnt them because he did not want people gaining knowledge… am i correct? please reply

  18. kyokogodai says:

    Find and read the book, "LTI-Lingua Tertii Imerii: Notizbuch eines Philologen" aka "The Language of the Third Reich". Not only does it give the insight on why things happened, like book burning, it may just chill your bones on how much of the same methods are being used today! This book would certainly be burnt by this mind set.

  19. Stefan Röhrl says:

    History is nothing if we don't learn from it. Think about what this action would mean for our days. Stamp information as unworthy (Fake News), demonitarize content providers (see YouTube's new policy and Google's new listing-algo) and finally outlaw and persecute.

  20. TheFancyAgenda says:

    It is amazing that it was the students who organized the book burnings.

  21. GamerZero says:

    Try reading books instead of burning them. Only a fool would burn a book for challenging their ideals.

  22. 畳山親父の助 says:

    Aktion T4

  23. S E Lewis Bayless says:

    why ????????????????????

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