For my last post about Berlin for a while (probably!). The more and more I was looking at my photos from my (very short, too short) time in Berlin in 2008, the more I think, “Damn, I have to go back!” So, who knows, maybe that’s a trip I should plan in the future.
But anyways, this post is about Bebelplatz and the Nazi book burning ceremonies. The photo above is of the memorial to the burning of Jewish books in the square known as Bebelplatz. Bebelplatz is a large thoroughfare near the State Opera building and it was named after the founder of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, August Bebel. The square was largely destroyed during World War II but it was restored in the 1950’s after the war was over.
The photo above is the memorial in Bebelplatz to the Nazi book burning ceremonies that took place on May 10th, 1933. The nationalist German Student Association brought out the contents of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (translated: Institute of Sexual Research) library into the square and while the infamous Joseph Goebbels gave an inflammatory speech, the books were burned in the square.
Also in attendance were members of the Nazi Students’ League and the Hitler Youth Group. That night the books that were burned were written by Heinrich Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, among others. Around 20,000 books were burned.
The memorial was designed by Micha Ullman and is a glass plate that allows passerby’s to see empty bookcases that can hold up to 20,000 books. On a plaque next to the memorial is a line from a play by Heinrich Heine’s called Almansor, which when translated into English says, “That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people.”
May this memorial serve as a reminder of what happens when books are burned.