I’d like to start 2018 off on a solemn and thoughtful note, and what is more fitting than a memorial? Specifically, a Book Burning Memorial.

The Library art installation at Bebelplatz, in Berlin. Image from the Atlas Obscura.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like, that day so long ago, when over 20,000 books were burnt to ash. Hopefully I never have to find out. The Nazis didn’t only burn books, they torched knowledge, science, and objectivity.

The books that were targeted includes those by August Bebel, Sigmund Freud, Ernst Glaeser, Heinrich Heine, Erich Kästner, Rosa Luxemburg, Heinrich and Klaus Mann, Karl Marx, Bertha von Suttner, and Stefan Zweig, and possibly even more importantly, the entire contents of the library at the Institute of Sexology, headed by Dr Magnus Hirschfeld. This library contained rare books and papers on sex and gender.

The art installation, by Micha Ullman, is underground, and its empty shelves have space for all the books that were destroyed that night in 1933. There is a plaque with a line by a German Jewish playwright:

“That was but a prelude;
where they burn books,
they will ultimately burn people as well.”
Heinrich Heine 1820

Are you interested in travelling to Berlin? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel.


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