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Books represent humanity at its best and its worst.
To burn books is simply a fundamental repression of ideas.
I mean, what can a book do? And why is it so dangerous
that it needs to be
physically
annihilated?
In 1933,
the National Socialist German Workers Party, called the Nazis for short,
came to power in Germany and established a
dictatorship under the leadership of
Adolf Hitler.
The Nazis intended
to re-arm Germany
and to reorganize the German state
on the principle
that the German
ethnic group or race was superior to all others in Europe.
They suppressed all dissent
within Germany,
making it a crime to criticize the regime.
The newly established Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment set up
various chambers to control
specific aspects of German culture such as art,
literature,
theater,
film,
music,
virtually all forms of entertainment and
all forms of dissemination of news.
In 1933,
in April, Nazi German students decided to
organize a nationwide
book burning
program to eliminate foreign influence, to purify German culture as they saw it.
So you have committees of students meeting with professors together
deciding what categories of books in these university libraries
would count as un-German. They didn't see themselves as suppressing culture. They saw
themselves as advancing Aryan German culture.
I remember very distinctly
a conversation between my parents
and some friends
who were all shocked that a nation like the Germans,
an educated, highly intelligent nation, would burn books.
Books never hurt anybody.
The event that the students planned occurred on May 10,
1933.
In each
German university city,
thirty-four of them in all,
thousands of people gathered together at a public place in which books that had
been confiscated either by the students themselves or by Nazi Party officials,
often with the help of police, were brought and dumped in a pile. Student
leaders exhorted their followers and the listening crowds to swear an oath by
the fire,
to destroy and combat subversive and un-German
literature.
"For the national treason against our soldiers in World War I,
we're burning Hemingway's books." --Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minister
himself spoke at the book
burning in Berlin.
It is amazing to me
the variety of
books
that was
burned on that night and thereafter. -Among the authors whose books
were burned
were Ernest Hemingway...both Mann brothers, Thomas and Heinrich... --There's the German
writer,
Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote
the famous book All Quiet on the Western Front...
Helen Keller...
Jack London, the American nature writer... There's very little that unites all of these
books really except that they were all considered dangerous by the Nazis.
A grand total of the number of volumes, perhaps best estimates
would be between eighty or ninety thousand volumes. For weeks afterwards,
books were confiscated from libraries,
from bookshops, and from private collections.
In 1939,
the Nazi regime initiated what became the Second World War.
During the course of this war,
the Nazis begin to implement their
population policy,
a priority element of which was the annihilation of six million Jews on the
European continent
in a
mass murder, a genocide that we
now call the Holocaust.
I was about 11
when i read the diary of Anne Frank. And it was translated into Persian.
Reading about Anne Frank and millions of other Iranians reading Anne Frank,
they discover
that they are that little girl. And that what happened to that little
girl was a supreme act of injustice.
And so they connect to her in away that no political
sermon,
or propaganda could affect. The
first thing every
totalitarian regime does, along with confiscation
and mutilation of reality, is confiscation of history and
confiscation of culture. I think they all happen,
almost simultaneously.
And they surely happened in my experience when I was living in Iran.
For me it's both
heartbreaking and,
quote unquote, a sort of badge of honor
that my book is not allowed to be published in Iran. It has been
translated into thirty-five languages and not in Persian.
Really all literature is dangerous to a regime that
fears the free flow of ideas.
Because the literature in its most fundamental way is meant to
forge connections among human beings. --Because you don't know where it takes you.
Knowledge is always unpredictable,
there is always a risk. It is like Alice jumping down that hole, running
after that white rabbit, not knowing where she goes.
And for tyrants, control is the main thing. They don't like this
unpredictability,
they don't want the citizens
to connect to the unknown parts of themselves, of their past, and to connect
to the world. --For a totalitarian regime this is perhaps the most
dangerous thing.
Because these regimes are predicated on the idea
that the people within them will resign themselves
the thinking that this is all there is. And that there aren't any other options.
I think the shame
is ours,
is everyone's. We all
have to think
that as humans we share the best and worst,
and that as human beings what happened then
can happen again. --How serious those warning signs were taken
is exemplified by my mother,
who, when I asked her if we had to worry about a guy like Hitler,
she said, "No.
We are living in a democracy.
We have the protection of the police. Nobody's going to hurt us."
So talk about warning signs, there were plenty of them.
Did w Did we take them seriously?
My family didn't. Never believed
that Germans would stoop so low
that they would implement the threats
which one fanatic uttered...
And so, our
own life
went from bad to worse
and it culminated in July of 1942,
when we were arrested
and sent to a concentration camp.
To make this clear,
it was a life without hope.
The only thing that they cannot
put in jail, or
prevent from physically
leaving, is your mind, is your imagination. That cannot be captured.
But the idea
of freedom
should be kept alive, even if it's between two people or three people. Talk
about it,
think about it, live about it, and hope about it.
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Nazi Book Burning

1889 タグ追加 保存
阿多賓 2014 年 2 月 1 日 に公開
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