Friday, September 26, 2008

Banned Books Week resource

How did the Nazi book burnings fit in to the larger pattern of suppression of free speech that began in 1933? Why were books and libraries attacked? Who created the blacklists? What books were destroyed and why? How it was part of the Nazi party's campaign to forcefully promote their narrow idea of "German-ness" and "patriotism" to the German people?

Many years ago I did an exhibit for University of Arizona Special Collections entitled "When Books Burn" about the Nazi book burnings of 1933. The site looks very dated (my web design skills c.2001), but it shows how the book burnings and library raids of May 1933 were part of the Nazi party’s plan to silence all dissent. The translations were written by Dr. Roland Richter, a retired Professor from the UA Department of German who specialized in the literature of the 1930s. To my knowledge it was the first time the documents and speeches had been translated into English.

Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January 1933, the first book/publisher/library suppressions happened in April, the book burnings were in May and by July a law was passed making Nazi Socialism the only legal form of political expression in Germany. Seven months was all it took, and the suppression of books and “cleansing” of libraries were key pieces of the plan.

They’re nasty reading, but take a look at some of the Nazi book manifestos. Are they similar to what you read and hear about today?

The site also has lesson plans created by UA Librarian Louise Greenfield.

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