Germany remembers authors of books burned by Nazis

Germany remembers authors of books burned by Nazis

9th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Germans commemorate 75th anniversary of Nazi book burning, in which the work of over a hundred authors was destroyed.

Berlin -- The flames shot into the night sky as university
students in Berlin and other German cities tossed thousands of books
onto bonfires to purge Nazi Germany of un-German ideas.

The ceremonial burning of books written by Jews, communists and
"degenerates" on May 10, 1933 took place less than four months after
Adolf Hitler came to power.

This week, the country is hosting a series of lectures, exhibitions,
discussions and readings to mark the 75th anniversary of the unsavoury

The Academy of Arts in Berlin is holding a commemoration ceremony on
Friday during which German President Horst Koehler will be the keynote




Actors, authors and schoolchildren will read from the works of some of
the around 130 authors whose works went up in flames, among them
Bertolt Brecht, Sigmund Freund and Thomas Mann.

On Saturday, Berlin's renowned Humboldt Library and the Spanish
Cultural Institute, Cervantes, are jointly hosting readings and
recitals from the burned works.

The event takes place on the same square where some 40,000 Nazi
supporters gathered three-quarters-of-a-century ago to witness the
book burning in the German capital.

Today an underground memorial marks the spot on what is now August
Bebel Platz. Conceived as an "empty library" visitors can view it
through a glass window built into the pavement.

"It is the right monument in the right place," according to Klaus
Staeke, president of the Academy of Arts.

Records show that at least 35,000 books were burned in 22 cities
between May and the end of August 1933 in an event unseen since the
Middle Ages.


Destruction of books 


In Berlin, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels delivered a
midnight speech in which he said: "The era of Jewish intellectualism
is now at an end. The soul of the German people can express itself

The students, who were at the vanguard of the Nazi movement, compiled
blacklists of undesirable authors and circulated them to public and
private libraries.

In addition to German-speaking authors, works of American writers Jack
London, Ernest Hemingway and Helen Keller were also consigned to the

While the names and works of many of the targeted authors are still
popular today, others like German writers Maria Leitner and Georg
Hermann have virtually been forgotten.

This shows that in some ways the book burning had a long-term effect,
according to Olaf Zimmermann, managing director of the German Council
of Culture.

"Yes, it's disgraceful, but the sad fact is that many authors whose
books landed on the bonfires have faded into obscurity," he said.

Passages from some of their works will be read out at the weekend
events, he said.

The book burning was the last major orchestrated event in the early
stages of Hitler's rule, following a purge of communists and trade
unions and a Nazi-organized boycott of Jewish goods.

It was also marked the start of censorship and the introduction of
Propaganda Ministry "guidelines" to which all aspiring writers were
expected to adhere.

Within the space of days the German book trade published a list of 131
authors and ordered libraries and bookshops to cleanse their shelves
of their works. Many of the writers had already fled the country.

DPA with Expatica 

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