Annual 2 Chapter 5

The Burning of the Books in Nazi Germany, 1933: The American Response

by Guy Stern


On 10 May 1933, a remarkable act of barbarism, a prelude to the many worse ones that followed, took place in the city of Berlin. Students from the Wilhelm Humboldt University, all of them members of right-wing student organizations, transported books from their university library and from other collections to the Franz Joseph Platz; adjacent to the university. Accompanying their actions with declaimed denunciations of the authors, they proceeded to toss thousands of titles, by writers famous and obscure, foreign and native, into the flames of an already ignited bonfire. The egregiously primitive act lasted for hours, interrupted only by the incantation of Nazi songs and a speech by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.

The next day, and in the weeks following, there was a massive reaction in the world press, especially since many other German university towns imitated this infamous act. German newspapers reported in triumph that Germany was beginning to purge itself of the alien and decadent corrupters of the German spirit, while newspapers and magazines abroad, from as far away as China and Japan, responded in surprise and shock. Even then, some knowledgeable journalists recalled the prediction of the poet Heinrich Heine, who had said a century earlier: "Where one burns books, one will soon burn people."

Fifty years have elapsed since books were burned in German university towns and almost forty years since the corpses of those murdered were burned in the crematoria. In an effort to ensure that this sequence or consequence will be remembered by the new generation of Germans, the Academy of Arts of West Berlin, under a grant from the Berlin Senate, opened a huge exhibit, two years in the making, which was shown in Berlin and other major cities in the Federal Republic of Germany.1

The exhibit featured a representative sampling of the burnt books, displayed photographs of the writers-who ranged from Albert Einstein to Thomas Mann, Jack London to Ernest Hemingway-and acquainted large crowds of viewers, many for the first time, with the reaction abroad to the book burning. Other cities in Germany followed suit; the media accorded wide publicity to the commemoration. These acts of contrition were replicated in Austria and the German Democratic Republic.

On 10 May 1983, for example, a commemorative ceremony was held in the Konzerthaus of Vienna with a major and significant address delivered by Rolf Hochhuth, author of The Deputy. The German Democratic Republic, beyond holding ceremonies, mailed out thousands of packets from its central photo agency with pictures of the Berlin and Leipzig book burnings. Regrettably, each reproduction had on the back a description, in English, that failed to mention that the books of Jewish authors--qua Jewish authors-were also burnt on the pyres; it read: "organised destruction of works by authors of MarxismLeninism, the leaders of the working class movement, and works of German national and world literature."

Similarly, an article written by a high-ranking East German official, Klaus Hopcke, deputy cultural minister of the GDR, does not mention that books by Jewish authors were specifically burnt (though he does include some of them by name). For whatever reason he also included Ernst Glaeser, who ultimately made his peace with the Nazis and returned to the Third Reich.' Whatever their merit or standard, these commemorative articles and events impel retrospective self-examination on our part as Americans. In short, how did Americans react fifty years ago to this prelude to terror?

On the whole, Americans reacted with remarkable and surprising appropriateness. As Carol Paul-Merritt points out en passant, our reactions to the book burning broke through our usual apathy to the unfolding terror in Germany.3 In fact, we knew and acted, while most Germans had as yet no inkling of the plans of its propaganda minister or, as some maintain, of Education Minister Bernhard Rust.4 As early as two weeks before the event, various American organizations began to launch protests and demonstrations and the Union of Jewish Orthodox Congregations announced special religious services on or before 10 May to protest the book burning.5

Famous American authors joined in. Helen Keller, the deaf, mute, and blind writer, a legend even then, had, because of a past act of compassion, a very personal reason to be indignant. With her books slated for the bonfires, she confronted the German students in an open letter:

History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them.

You can burn my books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas in them have seeped through a million channels and will continue to quicken other minds. I gave all the royalties of my books for all time to the German soldiers blinded in the World War with no thought in my heart but love and compassion for the German people ...

I deplore the injustice and unwisdom of passing on to unborn generations the stigma of your deeds.6

Several other American authors tried last-minute, equally unavailing exhortations. The novelist and dramatist Sherwood Anderson, the best- selling author Faith Baldwin, the scriptwriter and Southern author Erwin Cobb, and the Nobel Laureate Sinclair Lewis declared their solidarity with the banned writers and protested against the book burning. Sinclair Lewis characterized the proscribed books as "the noblest ... produced by Germany in the last twenty years."7

Subsequent reactions to the burning were even more widespread and forceful. "Hundred thousand march here in six-hour protest over Nazi policies," read the page one headline of the New York Times on 11 May. A Major General of the U.S. Army had volunteered to work out the logistics of a parade that stretched from Madison Square Garden to the Battery. Former Congressman Fiorello La Guardia, the future mayor of New York, held one of the keynote speeches, as did Mayor O'Brien, who, with but a few breaks, remained on the reviewing stand for nearly seven hours. A large group of spectators saluted and applauded the marchers.8 Also that evening the synod of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution in support of the writers whose works had been burnt.9

Similar protests and demonstrations occurred in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, and other American cities. Coverage of the book burning and the American reaction was swift, vivid, and extensive. The leading newsreels featured it. Newsweek called it "a holocaust of books," Time a "bibliocaust."10 The New York Times devoted three successive editorials to it and, in a rare departure from objective reportage, allowed its Berlin correspondent the following opinion: "This evening a significant part of ancient German liberalism-if that still existed-burnt along with the books."11 And while victimized American authors, e.g., Upton Sinclair, understandably received the greater coverage, the destruction of German and Russian books was by no means ignored.12

There was also protest against the brutalities simultaneously in- flicted upon people. Through an interview with Dorothy Thompson upon her return from Berlin-where the books of her husband, Sin- clair Lewis, had likewise been burnt-Time magazine tied together book burning and brutalization. Thompson, after having broken through a wall of silence erect ed by victims, perpetrators, and phy- sicians, found an intern who 'had been dismissed for writing "de- scriptions of beaten patients on the hospital charts," among them fifteen seriously injured Jewish patients who had been maimed, blinded, or driven insane.13

In addition, the book burnings and Germany's unbridled nationalism were condemned in radio panels featuring prominent members of the foremost American writers' association, the U.S. PEN Club, editors of leading magazines, and political figures.14 Yet these outbursts of indignation frequently represented rhetoric rather than deeply held informed convictions. A review of the adjectives used-"silly," "senseless," "ineffective," "infantile"- shows the inadequacy of the response. There were ill-considered attempts at humor. Noting that the Nazi ban on ritual butchering had necessitated the import of kosher meat from Denmark, the New York Times jocularly suggested an analogy for further book burning:

The publishing industry outside of Germany could take a hint. Why not special [cheap and shoddy] bonfire editions of prohibited books, designed exclusively for Nazi student consumption? ... The pages might be impregnated with some chemical giving off powerful fumes and loud detonations as they burned. That would make the book cremation parties a roaring success.

The Times, in yet another article, also advised the German students to burn microphones next, if they wished to stop the flow of ideas.15 Heywood Broun, the columnist for the World Telegram, threatened (on May 12) the wall- defacing, book-burning Nazi youths with a stout box on the ear.16

Another case in point is the feeble response of Henry Seidel Canby, then the editor of the Saturday Review, usually an astute critic of literature and world events, and ultimately an influential friend of the exiles. But at the International PEN Conference in Ragusa, Yugoslavia, he merely reaffirmed the principles of the PEN Club on free speech in response to the book burning. Though he did not know it at the time, the German delegation reported back to Berlin that they were not bothered at all by the enunciation of high-minded principles.17 Similarly Dr. Henry Leach, the president of the U.S. PEN Club, wondered in print whether Hitler, in a speech scheduled for a few days after the book burnings, would not then strike up a more conciliatory note.18

Yet with all the rhetoric, levity, and false optimism came a sense nonetheless that the American public was taking the book burning seriously, while among the pundits Walter Lippmann, one of the leading liberal journalists of his time, again proved himself a towering exception and a most astute analyst, immediately recognizing the enemy and his ultimate goals:

The Nazis deliberately and systematically mean to turn the minds of the German people to war. These acts symbolize the moral and intellectual character of the Nazi regime. For these bonfires are not the work of schoolboys or mobs but of the present German Government acting through its Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment.... For example ... they burn with conspicuous zeal ... Erich Maria Remarque's [anti-war book] All Quiet on the Western Front. The ominous symbolism of [this burning and] these bonfires is that there is a Government in Germany which means to teach its people that their salvation lies in violence.19

The coverage that followed Lippman's prophetic analysis was largely anticlimactic. It consisted, in 1933, of isolated news items, such as reports on book burnings in other German university towns or on the addition to the pyre of American authors such as John Dos Passos, Louis Fischer, or the emigre American sociologist Franz Boas.20 There was even an item, surprising in the light of subsequent developments, that Japanese students and professors had sent a message of protest to Germany.21

Finally, there were accounts of Oskar Maria Graf's insistence on having his books burned together with those of other esteemed expatriates. His wish was ultimately granted by the Nazis, and his courageous act inspired not only a poetic tribute by Bertolt Brecht but also some letters to the editor from American newspaper readers. The act of defiance by an individual apparently touched a responsive chord in the American character.22

What, meanwhile, was the reaction of the German immigrants? The established (and largely conservative) German language press in the United States reported the book burning without comment; some papers were flirting with Germany's new rulers or were financially dependent on German advertisers.23

As to the reaction of exiles in America, it was virtually nonexistent, since so few had landed in the United States by mid-1933. A tired, less socially embattled George Grosz, for example, sounded resigned in his letters: "Modern nations can manage to get along with books of military songs, army orders and a few classical authors.... That they burnt my notebooks [and drawings] I don't hold against them. Some of them are, so to speak, fire-proof and will continue to live."24

American concern did not end in 1933; the book burning impinged repeatedly but less dramatically on the collective memory of America whenever an anniversary or a current event acted as a catalyst. A prime example was the American reaction to the opening in 1934 of the German Freedom Library in Paris. Founded by Alfred Kantorowicz and presided over by Andre Gide, Romain Rolland, H. G. Wells, and Heinrich Mann, it reassembled many of the burnt books and functioned as a center for exiled writers.25 The reports of its opening inevitably led to a recapitulation of stories about the book burning. The prestigious educational journal School and Society quoted the dedicatory speech by Egon Erwin Kisch and detailed Kantorowicz's plans for a similar library in London under the aegis of a select group of British political and intellectual leaders. Appropriately for an American journal, it used as the lead its own advocacy of an analagous library in the United States. It might be added, parenthetically, that this has been realized, in part, after World War II by the founding of the Leo Baeck Institute in New York.26

Eight years later, on the 1942 anniversary day, a radio play by one of America's most celebrated poets and fiction writers was broadcast. Entitled They Burnt the Books, it was written by Steven Vincent Benet, who had recently received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and who was then at the height of his fame.27 The structure of the play is simple and effective. A narrator swiftly sets the historical background and represents the author's position; for example, when he excoriates the western allies, including the United States, for their blindness to the rise of National Socialism, as in the following:

Or people said,
I see by the papers they had an election in Germany.
Seem to have lots of elections over there.
Say, what do you know about this bank-holiday, Joe?
If you need some cash, I've got a couple of bucks,
But the banks are bound to reopen.

He then introduces a Nazi functionary whose spouting of Nazi ideology calls forth the voices of enlightenment throughout many centuries. Benet conjures up Swift, Milton, Tennyson, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman; and, from the German past, Heinrich Heine, who becomes the most frequently heard opponent of the fascists, and Friedrich Schiller. The speech of Schiller characterizes, in fact, the mood, tone, and style of the play:

Narrator:
A book's a book. It's paper, ink and print.
If you stab it, it won't bleed.
If you beat it, it won't bruise.
If you burn it, it won't scream.
[Crackle of flames]
Burn a few books-burn hundreds-burn a million-
What difference does that make?

Voice of Schiller [firm and thoughtful]:
It does to me.
Excuse me, sir-my name is Friedrich Schiller,
A name once not unknown in Germany,
One of the glories, so they said, of Germany,
A Germany these robbers never knew.
Over a century and a half ago
I spoke and wrote of freedom.

I spoke against oppressors and dictators.
I spoke for every man who lifts his head And will not bow to tyrants.
And, though I died, my poems and plays spoke on
In every tongue, in every land for freedom,
For that's what books can do.

Few parts of the play appear dated. At the drama's climax, the narrator hypothesizes what might happen in the United States under fascism. A high school history class is shown before and after a fascist takeover. Textbooks are purged; students brainwashed; they learn doublethink; the teacher, who protests, is dismissed and jailed. It could happen here, Benet seems to say.

When Benet's play was performed, on the eighth anniversary of the bibliocaust, many of the authors and artists whose works had been burnt had meanwhile fled to America. Several refugee actors, Theo Goetz, Peter Capell, and Stephan Schnabel, were among the performers. These three actors were also in the cast of the tenthanniversary performance of the German version, adapted by Walter Mehring, that was presented at Hunter College under the aegis of the German-Jewish New York newspaper Aufbau, its editor-in-chief Manfred Georg, and theater director Ernst Joseph Aufricht. The revival was preceded and followed by performances starring an illustrious cast of German exiles: Lotte Lenya accompanied by Kurt Weill; the Metropolitan Opera singer Emanuel List; and (as speakers or dramatic readers), Varian Fry of the Emergency Rescue Committee, the actors Josef Schildkraut and Erwin Kalser, and the novelist-dramatist Fritz von Unruh. (See Figure 1.)

Memories of the book burning survived and were perhaps even strengthened by America's entry into the war. In May 1943, for example, the New York Public Library participated in a national commemoration. With more than 1,000 people attending and the U.S. flag at half-mast, Ralph Bellamy recited scenes from Benet's play on the steps of the library, and Helen Hayes inveighed against censorship. Later that same day, WQXR, the New York Times radio station, broadcast an hour-long commemoration, which featured Eva Currie, Sinclair Lewis, a statement sent by Wendell Wilkie (the GOP presidential candidate of 1940), and the refugee author Bella Fromm, who was reported, probably inaccurately, to have been present at the Berlin book burning.28 Finally, there was an attempt at self-help by some of the exiles. As Oskar Maria Graf reported in a letter, with the assistance of the United Nations he was able to mount an exhibition of burnt books "which was widely praised.29

In addition, a good deal of intelligent commentary was provided by the refugee scholars, intellectuals, and artists who by then had resettled in the United States. Their essays and autobiographies, either translated into English or originally written in the refugee's new language, were occasionally quite successful, gaining a respectable readership in intellectual circles and often reminding readers of the book burning. They also made sure that their works, published in the United States, referred to the book burning as part of their own life, or, like Ernst Toller, called attention to it in a preface.30 In a nationally aired, postwar radio interview of Thomas Mann, for example, interviewer Robert Dworkin introduced Thomas Mann as a warning voice whose books had been "classified as degenerate and destroyed."31 Franz Schoenberner, in an essay in the Atlantic Monthly of 1943, surmised that even more books, for example those of Borne, would have been burned if the Nazis had understood German literature better.32 Walter Mehring's successful autobiography, The Lost Library, first published in English, placed the book burning in the historical perspective of censorship from the Inquisition to modern Communist dictatorships.33

Equally eloquent, if less influential because they were never translated into English, were statements by the exiles Kurt Pinthus and others. Pinthus, then living in New York, dated the period of exile literature as beginning with the book burning.34 Arnold Bauer, like wise in New York, coined the phrase "literature of the funeral pyre,35 and Alfred Kantorowicz, having escaped from Paris to the U.S., found a precise formulation for the scorching of the books: "On May 30 the Nazis pronounced the sentence of death against German literature."36 There were also countless poems and dirges to the burnt books. The poet David Luschnat, son of a pastor, instilled Lutheran fervor in his vision of Hitler as a madman burning books he could not understand.37 The physician-poet Martin Gumpert warned writers inside Germany that their books would be next on the bonfires.38 Alfred Neumann, contributing a dramatic scene on the occasion of refugees celebrating "I Am An American Day," reminded his fellow immigrants of the day when the Nazis robbed poets of the word, composers of tone, and painters of color.39

Another refugee dramatist, Goetz Mayer, wrote a radio play about the book burning, which was never broadcast. It shared the serious didactic intent of Benet's play but lacked the imaginative plotting and lyric mastery of that drama. After a short introduction by an interlocutor and propagandistic speeches by a Nazi spokesman, Mayer's drama introduces two main characters: a humane liberal professor of literature who never became involved in politics, and one of his students whom he accidentally meets on the night of the bonfires. They witness the book burning and, acting on impulse, walk past agitated mobs to a performance of Schiller's Don Carlos. They enter the theater during the third act, when the hero's friend, Marquis Posa, pleads with Philip 11 for freedom of thought and religion. In Mayer's drama, derived from life, Posa's speech is interrupted by demonstrative applause, obviously a protest directed at Germany's new rulers. Storm troopers close down the performance, leaving the audience and main characters to wonder who will be the victims. The question, in 1941, was left unanswered.40

Even as late as 1970, the 1933 book burning evoked responses in literature. The refugee poet Hans Sahl, visiting Germany from his new home in New York, told a German school class in a poem:

But in the songs of the exiled, in the rustle of the wind, turning the leaves of a charred book, we shall tell you what happened.41

We Fight Back Program

Beyond the impact of their written words, whether it was great or negligible, the exile writers spoke effectively about the book burning on campuses and in clubs and community centers.42 Perhaps this also contributed to the continued impact of the book burning in the United States.

Nor has this impact ceased even now. On 10 May 1983, immigrant intellectuals living in various parts of the United States were asked to share their recollections of fifty years ago on radio and television.43 This author was among those asked; he remembered not only the book burnings but the book mutilations that followed: We, as high school students, were asked to excise textbook pages and glue distorting substitute pages into histories and anthologies of literature. I also recalled, for an American radio station, our own book burning, when we, members of a Jewish youth group, rushed to our club room in the wake of the first arrests of 1935 to burn indexed books, for fear they would be found by the Gestapo. We were, of course, not alone. Theodor Kramer, after fleeing Austria, asks his sweetheart left behind, in a love poem:

And do my books, which I, before departing, gave you as presents, still stand upon your shelves ... or did you not, despite your feelings, have to burn a few?44

In short, contrary to what the Nazis expected, the memories of the book burning fifty years ago have not faded entirely-certainly not in the United States. They continue to be invoked whenever censorship, here or abroad, occurs. During Senator Joseph McCarthy's demagoguery, for example, President Eisenhower held a commencement address at Dartmouth College entitled "Don't join the book burners."45 Still more recently, on 1 June 1984, the New York Public Library, which had repeatedly sponsored or co- sponsored protests against the Nazi book burnings, excoriated the bibliocaust once again as part of a 4 1/2-month-long exhibit entitled "Censorship 500 Years of Conflict," the most comprehensive exhibition ever mounted on the subject. It included four photographs of the book burning, three of the burning in Berlin, one of the burning in Salzburg, Austria, on 30 April 1938, following the Anschluss. The caption explaining the photographs (and a sampling of burnt books) read as follows:

Hitler and his minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, staged nation-wide book burnings on the night of May 10, 1933. The books burned were Jewish, Marxist, Bolshevik, or other "disreputable" or non-German books. These included the works of Heinrich Heine, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Albert Einstein, Walter Benjamin, Karl Marx, Jack London and Margaret Sanger. Another book burning, this time of books by Jews, took place in Salzburg, Austria, following the plebiscite uniting Germany and Austria.

In addition, the catalogue of the exhibition referred to "the book burning of 'decadent' authors," and a brochure, available free to visitors, reminded readers that "Fascists utilized the complete arsenal of censorship - exile, imprisonment, and murder - as well as the banning and burning of books."46

Finally, in August 1984, Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and a frequent spokesman for the 1.25 million Reform Jews in America, drew parallels to the Nazi book burning when the government of the Moslem country of Malaysia requested the withdrawal of a work by a Jewish composer from the announced program of the New York Philharmonic, scheduled for the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Commenting on this attempt at censorship, Rabbi Schindler remonstrated: "The Malaysian action is reminiscent of the book-burning by the Nazi regime and should have been resisted and rejected by the Philharmonic." After first yielding to the request of the Malaysian government, the Philharmonic ultimately heeded the advice of Rabbi Schindler and of many other such voices.47 The theme of the book burning also recurs in American literature.

For example, in recalling the early stages of the genesis of his novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury tells us:

It followed then that when Hitler burned a book I [a lover of libraries] felt it as keenly, please forgive me, as his killing a human, for in the long sum of history they are one and the same flesh. Mind or body, put to the oven, is a sinful practice, and I carried that with me....48

In fact, the very title of the novel evoked the burning of books; as Bradbury told us on the title page, 451 degrees Fahrenheit is "the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns ......"

One more example. A year after the rape of the books, a young writer, writing about his alter ego, has his hero cope with disabling coldness in his study. The narrator [hero] decides to burn old books, bought for that purpose, in a dilapidated bath tub. He wants to start with a venerable German tome on medicine, whose subject and language are incomprehensible to him. But he cannot do it:

It is simply this: that if you have any respect for the mere idea of books, what they stand for in life, if you believe in paper and print, you cannot burn any page of any book. Even if you are freezing. Even if you are trying to do a bit of writing yourself. You can't do it. It is asking too much.

That short story, "A Cold Day," and the collection in which it appeared, led to William Saroyan's first literary success.49 I venture to predict that this story-and its uncomplex didactic message-will survive as long as censorship and book burnings are with us.

These reactions of American authors and the massive protests of the American public permit some tentative conclusions. An event that had taken place in a distant land and with no immediate perceptible consequences for most American citizens had enough impact to fire their imagination and keep the memory of an outrage alive. It may subsequently have been a tragic mistake to withhold, for whatever reasons, the full news of the concentration camps, for public response to the book burning proves that at least at that time Americans had not lost their capacity for outrage and indignation. If news and intelligent commentary on the death camps had reached a similar audience, it might have stirred our government into some preventative action, such as bombing the railroad tracks leading to the camps. That our government needed such pressure is, of course, only too tragically clear in retrospect. Perhaps an aroused American public could have provided it. For if one conclusion can be drawn from the American response to the book burning, it is the none-too-rare phenomenon that astute men and women, native Americans and recent emigres, writers, journalists, religious leaders, and average citizens were in the lead of their government in recognizing that the burning of the books foretold far worse conflagrations.

NOTES

1. The First Program of German Television aired a ninety-minute retrospective, once shortly before, once shortly after the anniversary. The documentary was conceived and executed at the Frankfurt studio and featured recollections (including mine) of various persons then living in Germany. The Berlin exhibit was subsequently shown in Frankfurt and other major German cities. The exhibit's catalogue, together with scholarly articles, is available in book form. See Das war ein Vorspiel nur: Bacherverbrennung Deutschland 1933. Voraussetzungen und Folgen, ed. Herman Haarmarm and Klaus Siebenhaar (Berlin, 1983).

2. For Hochhuth's article see "Verbrannte Bucher: Verbrannte Menschen. Uberlegungen zur Bucherverbrennung," Die Zeit 20 (20 May 1943): 15. For Hopcke's article, see "Stete Mahnung," Prisma, no. 4 (1983): 62-66.

3. See Carol Paul-Merritt, "The Reception of the German Writers in Exile by the American Liberal Press 1933-1945: Changes and Trends," in Exile: The Writer's Experience, ed. John M. Spalek and Robert F. Bell, University of North Carolina Studies in the Germanic Languages and Literatures, no. 99 (Chapel Hill, 1982), p. 102.

4. No clarity will be possible (and it is perhaps unnecessary) about the Nazi official directly responsible for the book burning until a complete examination of the voluminous files, located in Wurzburg, Federal Republic of Germany, is undertaken. Education Minister Rust became involved because the book burning was deliberately (and inaccurately) attributed to a spontaneous action of right- wing student organizations that nominally reported to Rust. Rust did make a speech in Berlin prior to the book burning "in support of" the students. See Joseph Wulf, Literatur und Dichtung im Dritten Reich: Eine Dokumentation (Gutersloh, 1963), p. 46.

5. For the protest against the planned bookburning and the action of Orthodox Jewry, see New York Times, 27 April 1933, p. 10, col. 5 and 7 May 1933, p. 12, col. 6 [hereafter cited as NYTI.

6. Cited in NYT, 10 May 1933, p. 10, col. 2.

7. NYT, 10 May 1933, p. 11, col. 2.

8. NYT, 11 May 1933, p. 1, col. 1, cont. on p. 10. Also see "Germany: Students Exult as 'Un-German' Books Burn," Newsweek, 20 May 1933, p. 10, col. 2.

9. NYT, 11 May 1933, p. 10.

10. Newsweek, 20 May 1933, p. 10, col. 2. Also see "Bibliocaust," Time, 22 May 1933, p. 21.

11. See NYT, 11 May 1933, p. 16, col. 1; 12 May 1933, p. 16, col. 4; 13 May 1933, p. 12, col. 3. The quote is from "Nazi Book Burning Fails to Stir Berlin," NYT, 11 May 1933, p. 1, col. 2. cont. on p. 12 (citation there).

12. See "List of Proscribed Authors," NYT, 6 May 1933, p. 8, col. 4, i.e., four days before the event. The lists in American newspapers varied, with the selections probably made by their various Berlin correspondents.

13. See "Bibliocaust," Time, 22 May 1933, p. 21.

14. See, for example, "American and British Branches of PEN Score Nationalization of Literature," NYT, 7 May 1933, p. 6, col. 12. Also "Nazi Action Scored by American Centre of PEN Clubs in Radio Symposium," NYT, 17 May 1933, p. 4, col. 4.

15. See "Topics of the Times. Books for Burning," NYT, 12 May 1933, p. 16, col. 4 and "Topics of the Times. Bonfires for Radios?" NYT, 13 May 1933, p. 13, col. 3.

16. Broun's feeble satire was reprinted in an anthology of his essays. See "The Burning of the Books" in The Collected Edition of Heywood Broun, ed. Heywood Hale Broun (New York, 1941), pp. 280-90.

17. Canby's declaration and the cynical reaction of the German PEN representatives are reproduced in Der deutsche Pen-Club im Exil, 1933-1945: Eine Ausstellung der Deutschen Bibliothek Frankfurt, ed. Werner Berthold and Brita Eckert (Frankfurt, 1980), p. 20. Canby realized the perniciousness of the new rulers of Germany during the Ragusa Conference: "During the speeches of the Nazis I had seen visible fear rising like cold fire. And I realized with a shock that what was a row over principle for English and Americans, and an affirmation of faith, was for these anti-Fascist Europeans, imaginative men and women all of them, a quick vision of armies in their cities and bombs on their homes." (American Memoir [Boston, 19431, pp. 392-99). For an account of Henry Seidel Canby's subsequent and unceasing efforts on behalf of the exiles, see Maurice R. Davie, Refugees in America. Report of the Committee on Recent Immigration from Europe (New York and London, 1943), p. 340.

18. As reported in NYT, 17 May 1933, p. 4, col. 4.

19. Cited in "Germany's Book Bonfire," The Literary Digest 115 (27 May 1933): pp. 14-15. The stature of Lippmarm is described in Larry L. Adams, Walter Lippmann (Boston, 1977).

20. A delayed book burning in Heidelberg, for example, was reported in NYT, 19 May 1933, p. 9, col. 2; the burning of 500 tons of Marxist books appeared in NYT, 22 May 1933, p. 9, col. 4. Surprisingly, Germany's second largest city, Hamburg, was never mentioned in American dispatches. According to my interviews (e.g. with Henry Marx of the Goethe Institute, then a law student in Berlin), the Gauleiter of Hamburg, Karl Kaufmann, passively resisted the book burning by simply ignoring instructions.

21. See "Japanese Denounce Actions of the Nazis," NYT, 14 May 1933, p. 3, col. 4.

22. Graf's protest, while shortened, was accurately reported and correctly translated in "Wants His Books Burned," NYT, 13 May 1933, p. 7, col. 4: "What have I done to earn this disgrace? The Third Reich ... has rejected almost all representative German literature and has driven the best German writers into exile and suppressed their works. It has tried to replace the concept of Germanism by that of nationalism. It has persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, murdered, or driven to suicide the friends of freedom. Now it claims me as a representative of that spirit." For the amplification of Graf's resonant protest, see "Editorial Note to Oskar Maria Graf, 'Verbrennt mich!' " reprinted in Aufbau, 14 May 1948, p. 17. In Brecht's poem, Graf's words are given lyric force:

Do not inflict that on me. Do not spare me. Did I not constantly report the truth in my books? And now I am being treated like a liar by you. I command you: Burn me!

23. See Carol Bander, "Die deutschsprachige Presse der Westkuste, 1933-1949," in Deutsche Exilliteratur seit 1933, (Berne and Munich, 1967), vol. 1, Kalifornien, ed. John Spalek and Joseph Strelka, pp. 197, 200.

24. George Grosz, Briefe 1913-1939, ed. Herbert Knust (Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1979), pp. 173, 179. Grosz's uncharacteristic resignation is stressed by Hans Platschek, "Politische Naivitat? Briefe des Malers George Grosz aus den Jahren 1913-1939," Die Zeit, 21 March 1980, p. 57.

25. See Alfred Kantorowicz, Exil in Frankreich: Merkwurdigkeiten und Denkwurdigkeiten (Bremen, 1971), p. 12. A further account, which cites Edwin Erwin Kisch's inspiring invocatory address, appeared in the Parisian exile journal Gegenangriff, 19 May 1934.

26. The LBI Library houses many of the books by German Jewish authors burnt in 1933.

27. New York and Toronto, 1942.

28. For accounts of the ceremony at the New York Public Library and the WQRX program see NYT, 11 May 1943, p. 19, col. 4 and 10 May 1943, p. 19, col. 5. The report of Fromm's presence at the 1933 book burning is implicitly contradicted by her subsequently published diary, which seems to indicate that she heard someone else's eyewitness account. See her Blood and Banquets: A Berlin Social Diary (New York and London, 1942), p. 112.

29. New York, Leo Baeck Institute, Kurt Kersten Papers, AR4061/Il: Letters from Oskar Maria Graf, 1940-1954. 1 am indebted to Dr. Sybil Milton, Chief Archivist, for calling my attention to this letter.

30. See, for example, Robert Neumann, By the Waters of Babylon (New York, 1940), unpaginated page following p. 356: "Robert Neumann ... has had all his works burned and banned in Germany and former Austria." Also see Toller, Eine Jugend in Deutschland (Reinbek, 1966), p. 10: "[Preface written] on the day of the burning of my books in Germany."

31. See Thomas Mann, Ton- und Filmaufnahmen, ed. Ernst Loewy (Frankfurt, 1974), p. 55.

32. See his "Germany. Introduction" in Heart of Europe, ed. Hermann Kesten and Klaus Mann (New York, 1943), pp. 625-30, paraphrase from p. 626.

33. The Lost Library (Indianapolis, 1951), p. 19. Elsewhere in this autobiography (p. 6

6) Mehring quotes Oskar Panizza's insight about bookburners-that they themselves were first corroded by the wrong books.

34. In his "Dichter uberwinden das Exil," first printed in Aufbau, 21 December 1944; reprinted in Das Aufbau-Buch, ed. Will Schaber (New York and Cologne, 1972), p. 283.

35. "Verbannte und verkannte Literatur," in Deutsche Literatur im Exil 1933-1945, ed. Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Frankfurt, 1974), vol. 1, p. 270.

36. Ibid.

37. The poem, entitled "Gleichschaltung," appears in Deutschland, Deutschland: Politische Gedichte vom Vormdarz bis zur Gegenwart, ed. Helmut Lemprecht (Bremen, 1969), pp. 413-14.

38. The poem, entitled "Euch fehlt die Phantasie," appears in An den Wind geschrieben: Lyrik der Freiheit, ed. Manfred Schlosser (Munich, 1960), pp. 17- 18.

39. In Alfred Neumann: Eine Auswahl aus seinem Werk, ed. Guy Stern (Wiesbaden, 1979), pp. 131-32. In his 1945 address "Literarische Bestandaufnahme," ibid., p. 166, Neumann recalls once again that his own books were burnt.

40. The MS was kindly called to my attention and made available to me by Professor Marta Mierendorff of the University of Southern California.

41. "An eine Schulklasse," in Wir sind die Letzten: Gedichte (Heidelberg, 1976), p. 17.

42. See Hans Sahl's Das verlassene Haus: Tagebuch aus dern amerikanischen Exil 1938-1947 (Munich, 1975), p. 63.

43. My own interview took place on station KMOX, St. Louis, 11 April 1983.

44. The poem, beginning with the line "Stehn meine Bucher,'' appears in Ich sah das Dunkel schon von ferne kommen: Erniedrigung und Vertreibung in poetischen Zeugnissen, ed. Bernd jentzsch (Munich, 1979).

45. "Don't join the Bookburners (Commencement Address, Dartmouth College, 14 June 1953)," in The President Speaks: From William McKinley to Lyndon B. Johnson, ed. Louis Filler (New York, 1964), pp. 324-26. The editor, Louis Filler, provides the following background: "On 14 June 1953, during Dartmouth College Commencement exercises, the President offered an impromptu statement on freedom of inquiry, which heartened those who hoped he would help halt McCarthy's Nero-like destructiveness."

46. William Zeisel, ed., Censorship: 500 Years of Conflict (New York: The New York Public Library, 1984).

47. As reported by John Rockwell in the International Herald Tribune, 11-12 Aug. 1984, p. 1, col. 3.

48. Fahrenheit 451 (New York, 1967; originally publ. 1950), "Introduction," p. 11.

49. In his collection of short stories The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (London, 1935), p. 187.

Sign Up for E-News

Facebook  Twitter  Google Plus  Instagram  pintrest 

Search