where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people

While recently helping a friend plan a trip to Berlin, I encouraged him to visit the brilliant memorial at Bebelplatz in the Mitte District.

On May 10, 1933, in the Bebelplatz in central Berlin, members of the Nazi Student Union burned 20,000 books, objecting to the “un-German spirit” of many Jewish, Communist, gay, and liberal authors. Joseph Goebbels declared that “the era of exaggerated Jewish intellectualism is now at an end … and the future German man will not just be a man of books … this late hour [I] entrust to the flames the intellectual garbage of the past.”

In 1995, Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman created a memorial room under the plaza, with empty shelves enough to accommodate 20,000 books. A plaque set into the cobblestones bears a quote by Heinrich Heine:

That was but a prelude;
where they burn books,
they will ultimately burn people as well.

This entry was posted in Architecture, Art, Books, Europe, Tourism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people

  1. margaret21 says:

    I didn’t know about this memorial. A sobering post.

  2. Thank you for making us reflect, pause, and rethink in this post.

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