2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists in Germany. One of the most famous events of that year took place on May 10th 1933 with the public book burning of over 25,000 “un-German” books on Opernplatz in Berlin (now renamed Bebelplatz).
At the beginning of April 1933, the German Student Association proclaimed a nationwide “action against the un-German spirit” throughout German universities. The aim was to remove undesirable professors from their posts, to blacklist “un-German” books and to purify libraries according to National Socialist principles.
The campaign reached its climax on the night of May 10th 1933 when students in over 20 university towns across Germany marched in torchlight parades to public book burnings. Students threw books onto bonfires, accompanied by marching bands, songs, incantations, fire oaths, speeches and ritualised ceremonies. The highlight of the evening was the public burning of over 25,000 “un-German” books on Opernplatz in Berlin, which was carried out by students, professors in academic robes and members of the SA, SS and Hitler Youth paramilitary organisations. The event was accompanied by music from SA and SS bands, broadcast live on German radio and filmed by the weekly newsreel “Wochenschau”. At midnight, the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, addressed a crowd of over 50,000 people and condemned works written by Jews, liberals, leftists, pacifists, foreigners and others as “un-German”. Continue reading