Books are powerful things. They can inspire, but sometimes they can be feared, then banned, and even burned. Meg Waite Clayton has this Perspective.
It was a night of extraordinary beauty: a torchlight parade with young people singing and carrying books. Forty thousand cheered as, in a spectacular display of heat and light, 25,000 books—gathered from stores and libraries based on lists put together largely by students—were burned.
Days later, Joseph Goebbels, who had proclaimed those books “un-German” in Berlin’s Opera Square, was named the German Minister for Popular Enlightenment.
“Un-German.” “Un-patriotic.” Nationalism so often defines itself not by who we are but by who we exclude.
Perhaps Hemingway, an American, was “un-German.” H.G. Wells. Trotsky. But Hitler’s Germany banned its own too: Albert Einstein. Karl Marx. Erich Remarque, whose "All Quiet on the Western Front" brought the experience of the WWI German soldier, Hitler’s own “volk,” to the larger world.