Book-burning have long been the staple of undemocratic regimes, Source: Freddy Kearney / Unsplash

Hamburg commemorates 90th anniversary of Nazi book-burnings

Hamburg commemorates 90th anniversary of Nazi book-burnings

The city will hold a month-long festival celebrating blacklisted authors, which proliferates to this day

Tomorrow, Hamburg will host a new festival commemorating the 1933 Nazi book burnings that took place in the city. The festival is called ‘Hamburg Reads Burnt Books’ (Hamburg liest verbrannte Bücher) and is centred around the George P. Salzmann library, which mainly includes first editions of banned and ostracized literature and is now part of the University Library in Augsburg.

The festival commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Aktion wider den undeutschen Geist (Action against the un-German). When the Nazi party took power in 1933, they organised book burnings and blacklisted authors and titles deemed contradictory to the ideology of the day.

In its own right, the festival aims to celebrate the fact that the Nazis were unsuccessful, with the organization of a month of lectures, art exhibitions and readings of the targeted books. Some of the authors on the blacklist include household names like Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka, Erich Maria Remarque and many more.

“Books, we now know that you can't burn them”

'Hamburg Reads Burnt Books' will take place between 10 May and 10 June and will feature more than 50 events. The event is organised by the Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky State and University Library in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences and the city’s Authority for Culture and Media.

The festival also carries the motto “Books, we now know that you can’t burn them” by Erich Kästner, a victim of Nazi repression in the era. At the same time, although the written word was one of the first calamities of the Nazi regime, writers and intellectuals deemed undesirable by the regime often suffered the worst fate as the years went on.

Some, like Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were driven into exile, others, like Ernst Toller and Kurt Tucholsky, were deprived of their citizenship, yet for many, Nazi persecutions ended in death. Some perished in concentration camps (Carl von Ossietzky), while other exiled authors died from suicide (Walter Benjamin and Stephen Zweig).



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