Nazi Book-burning Fails to Evoke Usual Carnival Spirit in Reich
Menu JTA Search

Nazi Book-burning Fails to Evoke Usual Carnival Spirit in Reich

Download PDF for this date

Monster demonstrations in the university towns of Germany, accompanied by consignment to the flames, at midnight, of thousands of volumes of books “un-German” in spirit, and a nationwide radio broadcast by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, marked the freeing of the Third Reich from the influences of “Jewish intellectualism.” While great numbers, as usual, participated in the gigantic carnivals arranged by Goebbels, it was noticeable that, except among the students charged with carrying out the literary auto-da-fe, the enthusiasm which has marked previous celebrations since the advent of the Hitler regime, was lacking.

Speaking from a swastika-bedecked rostrum in the Opera Square of Berlin, over a national radio hook-up, Goebbels praised the actions of the students against the “cunning Jewish intellectualism” and acclaimed them for their courageous and great symbolic act in cleansing their libraries of “Jewish dirt.”

The student leader, while lighting the great bonfire declared, “I give over to the flames Sigmund Freud and his school. Let the flames swallow the falsifiers of history, Emil Ludwig Cohn, the nationally foreign journalists, Theodore Wolff and George Bernhard, and the corrupt and degenerate author of ‘Jew Suss’.”

Enormous crowds filled the Unter den Linden and followed several bands in the Horst Wessel song and other Nazi anthems.

At Munich, thousands marched past the Brown House, national headquarters of the Nazi party, where they were greeted by the Nazi leaders. At the Koenigsplatz, a crowd of a hundred thousand gathered to hear a student leader deliver a pointedly anti-Semitic speech which he concluded with an exhortation to every German to throw out of his home all “un-German” books and follow the example set by the students last night.

Of the thousands of volumes collected for the burning, only a small proportion actually were consigned to the flames. University committees went through the condemned works, segregating several thousand books that were to be saved. Of the remainder, a large part were sold to pulp mills to be made over into paper pulp.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund