Nazi Book Burning


Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels oversees a book burning rally in front of the Berlin Opera House. A translation of Goebbles’ speech to the students assembled there after the jump.

On this date in 1933, the Nazis engaged in nationwide public book burnings. The Hitler regime had drawn up lists of scholars and writers unacceptable to the New Order as decadent, materialistic, and representative of “moral decline” and “cultural Bolshevism.”  These included: Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Döblin, Erich Maria Remarque, Carl von Ossietzky, Kurt Tucholsky, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Erich Kästner, and Carl Zuckmayer.

Frye in Anatomy:

The only way to forestall the work of criticism is through censorship, which has the same relation to criticism that lynching has to justice. (CW 22, 6)

In “The Only Genuine Revolution”:

Historical imagination is a difficult thing to develop, and I’m not surprised that people shrink from trying to do it. But I’m always terrified when I hear the word “relevance” applied to education, because I can never forget that it was one of the jargon terms of the Nazis, and particularly the Nazi youth, around 1933 to 1934. That is, the professors around the universities that were being shouted down and hounded out of the place because they didn’t like Hitler were the people who didn’t understand the relevance of everything that was being studied to the Nazi movement. (CW 24, 167)

Transcript of Goebbels’ speech:

German students: We have directed our dealings against the un-German spirit; consign everything un-German to the fire, against class conflict and materialism, for people, community, and idealistic living standards. I hand over the writings of Karl Marx and Kautsky to the fire.

Against decadence and moral decay! For discipline and propriety in family and state! I hand over to the fire the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Glaeser and Erich Kästner.

Against a rascally attitude and political betrayal, for dedication to Volk and state! I hand over the writings of Friedrich Wilhelm Förster to the fire.

Against soul-fraying overestimation of the instinctual life, for the aristocracy of the human soul! I hand over the writings of Sigmund Freud to the fire.

Against falsification of our history and disparagement of its great figures, for respect for our past! I hand over the writings of Emil Ludwig Kohn and Werner Hegemann to the fire.

Against Jewish-democratic-influenced journalism alien to our people, for responsible collaboration in the work of national reconstruction! I hand over the writings of Theodor Wolff and Georg Bernhard to the fire.

Against literary betrayal of the soldiers of the world war, for education of the people in the spirit of truthfulness! I hand over the writings of Erich Maria Remarque to the fire.

Against condescending debasement of the German language, for care of the most precious property of our people! I hand over the writings of Alfred Kerr to the fire.

Against cheek and arrogance, for respect and reverence for the immortal German Volk-spirit. Devour, fire, also the writings of Tucholsky and Ossietzky!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *