Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings Docent Training: Highland Park, IL Doug Wadley USHMM Regional Education Corps and Teacher Fellow Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School, Bradley, IL United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
General Docent Expectations: • To help visitors establish the facts of the story. • To clarify the chronology and content of the history. • To serve as an integral part of an active learning environment, serving as a catalyst for learning. • To serve as an exhibition resource for visitors
General Docent Expectations: Don’t feel like you have to be a Holocaust historian or have the answers to all of the various questions that visitors may have. Rather, the responsibility of the docent lies not in memorizing the entire exhibition or in being able to lecture visitors, but rather in knowing how to help visitors find the answers to their own questions.
General Docent Expectations: Upon greeting visitors – • Welcome them • Give your name • Approximate the length of the tour, divided into six sections • General housekeeping rules • Encourage questions and dialogue
General Docent Expectations: Possible Opening Questions: • Why are books important? • What would you do if someone took away or denied you access to your favorite books? • What does it say about a society that burns books?
Where one burns books, one will, in the end, burn people. ~Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)
The following slide contains a list of randomly selected books, from political treatises to books of religion to fiction to comic books to classical literature. What might someone find offensive in these works?
The Holy Bible, King James Version • The Koran • The Hebrew Bible • Night by Elie Wiesel • Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain • a Captain America comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby • Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels • Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith • various Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling
There are documented cases of book burning as early as 213 B.C. when Confucian books were ignited in an act of government persecution. The first recorded book burning in the United States came in 1650. William Pynchon's A Meritorious Price of Our Redemption was ordered destroyed by a court because the religious publication contained "errors and heresies." The book was burned by the public executioner. The largest book burning in history reportedly occurred in 1992 when Serb forces attacked Sarajevo's National Library. The three-day assault destroyed more than 1 million books and 100,000 manuscripts and records.
Section One: The Nazi Revolution Uniformed Nazi party officials carrying confiscated books. Hamburg, Germany, May 15, 1933. Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz / USHMM#71515
The Nazi Revolution Between 30 January and 10 May 1933, Germany changed dramatically on many different levels It was not just a political revolution but a cultural one as well
The Nazi Revolution The Nazis began to target groups they considered to be troublesome to their mission, the creation of an Aryan nation, pure and strong. Those who found themselves now on the outside as not only citizens but even as humans included:
Close-up of a Gypsy couple sitting in an open area in the Belzec concentration camp, July 1940
Five handicapped Jewish prisoners, photographed for propaganda purposes, who arrived in Buchenwald after Kristallnacht, 1938. [Photograph #13132]
A group of Jehovah's Witnesses in their camp uniforms after liberation. These men were imprisoned in the Niederhagen bei Wewelsburg concentration camp. Niederhagen bei Wewelsbug, Germany, 1945.
Identification pictures of a prisoner, accused of homosexuality, who arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp on June 6, 1941. He died there a year later. Auschwitz, Poland.
Three Soviet POWs who were captured near Wisznice, stand with their hands tied behind their back. They were later executed in the Lyniewski Forest. [Photograph #03835]
The Nazi Revolution 1933: Nazis in power; their concern toward Jews in general reached into all areas of society. For example: 25-point platform stated Jews needed to be removed from influential positions in the arts April 1933: Civil Service law dismissed Jews from government employment – Since most orchestras, etc, were run by provinces, municipalities, this cost Jews their livelihoods and pensions “Gradualism” of restrictions between 1933-39 made most Jews feel they could get by 1933: Reich Chamber of Culture created
Section Two: Students in the Nazi Revolution Students and members of the SA with armfuls of literature deemed "un-German" during the book burning in Berlin. Germany, May 10, 1933.USHMM #69031
Students in the Nazi Revolution Many students, feeling young, disenfranchised, and out-of-touch with the Weimar Republic embraced Nazi ideology.
Students and members of the SA unload books deemed "un-German" during the book burning in Berlin. The banner reads: "German students march against the un-German spirit." Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933.National Archives and Records Administration / USHMM #45032
Students in the Nazi Revolution German university students led an organized campaign against the “Un-German Spirit” within Germany • Twelve Theses (evoked Luther’s 95 Theses) • Invitation to a book burning
Students in the Nazi Revolution 4. Our most dangerous enemy is the Jew and those who are his slaves. 5. A Jew can only think Jewish. If he writes in German, he is lying. The German who writes in German, but thinks un-German is a traitor, the student who speaks and writes un-German is, in addition, thoughtless and has abandoned his duties.
Section Three: Authors and Their Books The condemned authors included many Germans, many of whom were Jewish • Freud • Einstein Sigmund Freud
Authors and Their Books • But also the works of non-Germans were burned • H.G. Wells • Upton Sinclair • Jack London Upton Sinclair “The Jungle”
Authors and Their Books Banned categories: • pacifists • communists • socialists • Jewish • opposed to Nazism • “pornographic” The Nazis burned Jack London's socialist-leaning works
Section Four: Immediate American Responses Anti-Nazi groups in the U.S. hoped to use the May 10 book burnings as a unifying cause • Massive protests were organized on May 10 in cities across the U.S.
On the day of book burnings in Germany, massive crowds march from New York's Madison Square Garden to protest Nazi oppression and anti-Jewish persecution. New York City, United States, May 10, 1933.National Archives and Records Administration / USHMM #69040
Immediate American Responses American newspapers nationwide reported both the Nazi bonfires and the American protests • Political cartoons –
Immediate American Responses This cartoon shows two pyres, the "altars of the Nazis"--Nazi victims, and condemned books. The piece was printed in the Daily Worker (Chicago), May 11, 1933. United States Department of Labor / USHMM #2003CLFP
Immediate American Responses Newsweek cover – The interior article labeled the burnings as a “Holocaust”
Immediate American Responses Writers in the U.S. (some German exiles) protested the events • Walter Lippman • Faith Baldwin • Sinclair Lewis • Helen Keller
Immediate American Responses The expulsion of Jews and other political opponents from German universities, the book burnings, and the continuing acts of oppression prompted writers, artists, doctors, and other professionals to flee Germany Visitors should look for:
Immediate American Responses Magazine/Photographs quoting Albert Einstein and the establishment of the American Library of Banned Books Photograph -- Alvin Johnson, University in Exile (New School) Photomontage, John Heartfield, “Through Light into Darkness”
Section Five: America At War During the war, Nazi Germany and its intolerance of ideas and the burning of books was often contrasted with America’s freedoms
Patriotic wordsmiths spawned a vocabulary and slogans that militarized literature. Books were mightier than the sword, and became weapons, bullets, and thinking bayonets. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, N.Y. / USHMM #2003ZWHR
America At War FDR delivered the “Four Freedoms” speech in 1941 – freedom of speech, of religion, from fear, and from want. Wide World Photo / USHMM #00870
This 1942 poster from the federal Office of Emergency Management incorporated a photograph of a typical New York City newsstand. German, Russian, Yiddish, French, and English language newspapers appear in the display. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, N.Y. / USHMM #2003138E
The Office of War Information poster "This is the Enemy" gives the Bible prominence, intended to appeal to deeply-held religious convictions. Rumors that Bibles were burned seized the American imagination. Office of War Information, 1943 / USHMM Collection #2003VENZ
The Office of War Information made use of the press, radio, motion pictures, exhibitions, and public programs in the United States and abroad. The Council on Books in Wartime distributed this poster to bookstores and booksellers for window displays to expose "the nature of the enemy." Records of the Office of War Information, Record Group 208, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, N.Y. / USHMM #2003TRP7
In May 1943, the Office of War Information opened a giant outdoor exhibition, The Nature of the Enemy, in Rockefeller Plaza. With its exhibition, the OWI intended to expose the Nazi philosophy of "fear, slavery, and death"--"pillars in the society of evil." But surprisingly, the exhibition avoided reference to the "Final Solution". New York City, May 1943. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md. / USHMM #BB847
America At War The Writer’s War Board, a private organization supported by the government, rallied more than 2,000 writers to produce slogans, posters, syndicated articles, radio dramas, government publications, advertisements, and war propaganda. Visitors should look for:
America At War Brochure, “Books the Nazis Burned” from NY Public Library exhibition Book/radio play by Stephen Vincent Benet, “They Burned the Books” Pamphlet with artwork from winning entry of a student essay contest, “What It Means To Be An American”
America At War The Council on Books in Wartime contrasted Nazi German values with U.S. values; the Council adopted the slogan “Books are Weapons in the War of Ideas” • Banner, “Books Like These Are Burned in Slave Countries,” display at the NY Public Library, 1942
America At War The Victory Book Campaign (sponsored by the Red Cross, the American Library Association, and the United Services Organization) published “good” books for U.S. troops.
Mrs. Roosevelt’s syndicated feature "My Day" 11 May 1943 reached more than four million people. New York World Telegram / Nancy Roosevelt Ireland / USHMM #2003WLKC
America At War The Office of War Information was established by FDR in 1942 to promote an understanding of the nation’s war efforts • Advertisement, “These are the Things we are Fighting for” • Exhibition (photographs), “The Nature of the Enemy,” New York, May 1943