Why Study Hitler and World War II? The Infamous Book Burnings

posted by Dr. Jael Ever @ 15:11 PM
January 11, 2013

    Repression of intellectual ideas––especially when those ideas solidify in book print––remain shameful marks on Western civilization.  Germany’s vile book burnings took such repression to extremes.  But whether books are burned, banned, or restricted to ‘inconsequential’ publishing, the effects are the same:  to limit the flow of certain political ideas into the public sphere.

According to Wikipedia, “The Nazi book burnings were a campaign conducted by the authorities of Nazi Germany to ceremonially burn books in Germany and Austria by classical liberal, anarchist, socialist, pacifist, communist, Jewish, and other authors whose writings were viewed as subversive or whose ideologies undermined the National Socialist administration.”

Among authors Hitler and his followers feared enough to destroy their works were: Franz Kafka, Stephen Crane, John Dos Passos, Albert Einstein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sigmund Freud, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Jefferson, James Joyce, Helen Keller, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Jack London, Herman Melville, Marcel Proust, Upton Sinclair, Robert Louis Stevenson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jonathan Swift, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Leo Tolstoy, H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, etc.

All of these writers, without doubt, can give their readers amble intellectual warnings about the tyranny of dictatorship.  Note especially that these authors use to be known and loved in American schools and universities.

The Holocaust Encyclopedia especially cites the works of Heinrich Heine, a 19th Century Jewish writer who prophetically penned:  “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”  And that is indeed what Hitlerians did!

While the internet seems to free writers from such political repression, it also limits their ideas by bringing about collapse of the print book market.  In his ebook, ‘Electronics and the Decline of Books: The Transformation of the Classroom,’  Eli Noam of Columbia University argues that the internet renders books secondary in the U.S. education system.  Instead, commercial firms provide electronic systems, multimedia technologies, and pictorial presentations to such an extent that such businesses disempower non-profit universities and colleges.

Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly cites:  “Unit sales of print books fell just over 9% in 2012 . . . the same percentage decline posted between 2010 and 2011. The unit declines in 2012 reflect in part the 2011 collapse of Borders” Book stores.

In The Revelation, one of the Christian non-fiction prophecy books, God tells the Apostle John to ‘eat’ His Book.  John writes:  “And I took the little book . . . and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter (10: 8 -10).”  No matter how discomforting, the truth of God’s Word, and other intellectual books, may be to consume––they alone can give 21st Century readers full understanding of the times we live in.

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