|Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.
German students and Nazi SA plunder the library of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, Director of the Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
In May 1933, the Nazi Party decreed that any book, “which acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home and the driving forces of our people...” was to be burnt.
On May 10, German students carrying banners toured the streets, rifling libraries, synagogues, and private homes burned tens of thousands of books nationwide. Works of philosophers, rationalists, poets, and internationally acclaimed authors, which had until then formed part of universal studies, were thrown into the flames. These book burnings marked the beginning of a period of extensive censorship and control of culture in Adolf Hitler’s escalating reign of terror.
Some of the authors targeted in the book burning campaign are listed below.
Erich Maria Remarque
H. G. Wells
|The public burning of “un-German” books by members of the SA and university students on the Opernplatz in Berlin.
Public domain NARA via USHMM.
|Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels (at podium) praises students and members of the SA for their efforts to destroy books deemed “un-German” during the book burning at Berlin’s Opernplatz (opera square). Germany, May 10, 1933. Public domain NARA via USHMM.
Joseph Goebbels, German propaganda minister, speaks on the night of book burning. Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933.
At Berlin’s Opernplatz, crowds of German students and members of the SA gather for the burning of books deemed “un-German.” Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933. Public domain NARA via USHMM.
A member of the SA throws confiscated books into the bonfire during the Public domain burning of “un-German” books on the Opernplatz in Berlin. Public domain NARA via
|Students and SA members carry piles of “un-German” literature to throw into the bonfire on the Berlin Opernplatz. Public domain NARA via
|Students and members of the SA unload books deemed “un-German” during the book burning in Berlin. The banner reads: “German students march against the un-German spirit.” Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933. Public domain NARA via USHMM.
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