Cover image for The Holocaust and the book : destruction and preservation
The Holocaust and the book : destruction and preservation
Rose, Jonathan.
Publication Information:
Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, [2001]

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vi, 314 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
The Nazi attack on "un-German" literature, 1933-1945 / Leonidas E. Hill -- Bloodless torture: the books of the Roman ghetto under the Nazi occupation / Stanislao G. Pugliese -- The confiscation of Jewish books in Salonika in the Holocaust / Yitzchak Kerem -- Embers plucked from the fire: the rescue of Jewish cultural treasures in Vilna / David E. Fishman -- "The Jewish question" and censorship in the USSR / Arlen Viktorovich Blium; introduced, translated, and annotated by George Durman and Donna M. Farina -- The secret voice: clandestine fine printing in the Netherlands, 1940-1945 / Sigrid Pohl Perry -- Reading and writing during the Holocaust as described by Yisker books / Rosemary Horowitz -- Polish books in exile: cultural booty across two continents, through two wars / Sem C. Sutter -- The library in the Vilna ghetto / Dina Abramowicz -- Library and reading room in the Vilna ghetto, Strashun Street 6 / Herman Kruk; translated by Zachary M. Baker -- When the printed word celebrates the human spirit / Charlotte Cuthmann Opfermann -- Crying for freedom: the written word as I experienced it during World War II / Annette Biemond Peck -- Zarathustra as educator? the Nietzsche archive in German history / John Rodden -- Convivencia under fire: genocide and book burning in Bosnia / András Riedlmayer -- Jewish print culture and the Holocaust: a bibliographic survey / Joy A. Kingsolver and Andrew B. Wertheimer.
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Z658.G3 H65 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Between 1933 and 1945 Nazi Germany destroyed an estimated 100 million books throughout occupied Europe, an act inextricably linked with the murder of 6 million Jews. This volume examines this bleak chapter in the history of printing, reading, censorship, and libraries.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

"The story of the Six Million is also the story of the One Hundred Million... the mass slaughter of Jews was accompanied by the most devastating literary holocaust of all time," notes Rose, director of the graduate program in book history at Drew University. He has compiled 15 sound works of scholarship that explore reading as a conscious act of resistance and the vital importance of books to the preservationÄor in this case, the complete exterminationÄof a society and its identity. Historian Stanislao G. Pugliese discusses how the contents of Rome's renowned Judaica librariesÄincluding rare manuscripts and books documenting the community's historyÄwere burned by the Fascists and later by the Nazis, allegedly with the help of the Catholic Church. Communications expert John Rodden presents a thoughtful essay on "reception history" (or the response of readers) during Hitler's regime, specifically how the Nazis twisted the teachings of Friedrich Nietzsche to advance their cause and the present-day revival of interest in the philosopher in Germany. But the most compelling articles recall firsthand how both Jews and other Europeans attempted to maintain their dignity with books during WWII. Vilna Ghetto librarian Dina Abramowicz delivers an unemotional yet powerful description of her patrons and what they wanted to read: some sought historical analogies, such as books about WWI; others wanted to read about social issues, but most checked out escapist booksÄdetective stories, romance and suspense novels. Jewish scholars and students of modern history will find this volume to be a significant and unusual supplement to Holocaust research and a convincing argument for the centrality of books and reading as subjects for historical research. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One THE NAZI ATTACK ON "UN-GERMAN" LITERATURE, 1933-1945 Leonidas E. Hill Scholars continue to debate the actual and symbolic meaning of the public burnings of books on 10 May 1933, the "Action against the Un-German Spirit." Scarcely anyone disputes that the book burnings deserve mention with the Reichstag fire and the boycott of Jewish businesses as among the most striking features of the first months of the Hitler regime. But it was students rather than the new government of the Third Reich who planned and staged these events. Should they still be regarded as symbolic of Nazi cultural policy as they were during the 1930s and World War II? Was this attack on the "un-German" actually a reflection of Nazi racial policies? The Nazis' vicious anti-Semitism and the book burnings made some observers worry that Jews would be burned next. Heinrich Heine was often quoted: "There where one burns books, one in the end burns men." Yet the world reaction was somewhat ambiguous: it combined indignation and condemnation with a propensity to view the burnings as mere student highjinks, in bad taste but a unique occurrence. The stronger international reaction to the boycott made the still vulnerable Nazi regime temporarily cautious. Hence the cultural implications of the 1933 book burnings and book bannings remained unclear for a few years. The various states in Germany designed their own censorship policies and implemented them differently. This chaotic situation ended with the centralization of cultural and racial policy and the introduction of more radical policies. A brief caesura during the 1936 Olympic year was followed by accelerated aggressiveness. After the takeover of Austria in March 1938 and the Kristallnacht pogrom the following November, the Nazis indulged their appetites for plunder and brutality and fulfilled the expectations of their most acute critics by destroying both books and Jews. The destruction was limited compared with the holocaust of books and human beings during the Second World War, but it revealed more fully the crimes implicit in Nazi ideology. The 10 May 1933 book burnings became a powerful symbol of German "barbarism" and helped focus resistance to nazism outside Germany. Only now, however, is the profundity of Heine's perception clear: the burnings of 1933 are an appropriate symbol for and anticipation of the wartime extermination of Jews and Slavs. The "My Life in Germany" collection of autobiographies at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, vividly illuminates the experiences of German authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers during the continually expanding Nazi war against everything "un-German." Two manifestos from April 1933, the "Twelve Theses against the Un-German Spirit" and the "Feuersprüche" (fire incantations), read and chanted at the burnings, are exemplary distillations of the Nazis' viewpoint. But what were the sources of their belief in and hatred of the "un-German," and how did they define that term? Romanticism, nationalism, racism, social Darwinism, and antimodernism were the pillars of National Socialist cultural policy. From romanticism came the conviction that peoples expressed their special Geist (spirit or genius) in their language, literature, and customs. Early nineteenth-century conservative romanticism rejected Enlightenment cosmopolitanism and the egalitarian ideas of 1789. The wars of German unification and the First World War provided an infusion of militarism and chauvinism. The anti-Western nationalism of the German "ideas of 1914" was hostile to democracy and parliamentarism and was a baneful force in the Weimar Republic. Nazism combined these elements with assertions of German superiority based on "race," characterized especially by "blood," meaning genealogy rather than conventional blood types or genetics. Although the Nazis considered Jews and Slavs racially inferior, they believed that only a colossal social Darwinistic struggle could prevent the conspiracy of Jewish capitalists and financiers from gaining economic control of the globe, and the conspiracy of Jewish Bolsheviks from fomenting world revolution. In preparation for this struggle National Socialists would end the political and social disunity of the hated Weimar Republic and build a politically, socially, racially, economically, and militarily strong Germany. They intended to liquidate the political parties of the Jews and their allies in the liberal center as well as on the socialist and communist left; to dissolve classes and unite all Germans in the new discipline of Gemeinschaft; to purify society through eugenic policies, the sterilization of "colored" and "mentally deficient" people, and the extrusion of Jews and Slavs, who on racial grounds were non-Germans; to regain control of the economy from the Jews, whom they accused of dominating banking, the professions, the universities, publishing, and culture; and to build a powerful army capable of aggressive war for the conquest of Lebensraum , virtually the European continent. The population would have to be reeducated for all of these purposes and for war. Nazi ideology and songs sanctioned or encouraged violence against, even murder of domestic and foreign enemies. Nazi antimodernism espoused romantic stereotypes of sturdy, unalienated, racially pure "Nordic" peasants engaged in healthy agricultural labor and producing "Aryan" children in an idealized countryside. It condemned the supposed license, decadence, and abstract intellectualism of city dwellers living unhealthy, alienated, soulless, infertile lives in high-rises and factories surrounded by asphalt. Nazis preached an idealized vision of the human soul and fulminated against the elevation of the "base drives" by modern psychology and psychoanalysis, against eroticism and homosexuality in practice as well as in literature, theater, and the arts. They denounced modern music and architecture, especially the "Bolshevik" Bauhaus, and promoted "traditional," "pure," "German" styles. They despised un-German," "corrupt," and "materialistic" American culture, sometimes applying the term "nigger culture" to Jews as well as blacks.     Nazi hatred of the Eastern Jews, the Ostjuden , was partly cultural (they dressed and looked different and spoke Yiddish) but also racial. Supposedly, Jewish "blood" was so different that it made assimilation impossible, despite the fact that assimilated Jews spoke German, had the same manners, clothing, and habits as other Germans, were usually patriotic, and had fought loyally in World War I with more than proportionate losses. One Jew recalled that during the Weimar period, when he had occasion to disagree with Christian Germans, they would reply, "You will never learn to feel as a German does." This was a milder expression of the Nazi conviction that the German Geist and culture could be expressed only in the German language by "true" Germans, that is, non-Jews, and that Jews were imbued with the Jewish "spirit." Hence expression of their thought in the German language was a lie and, in fact, a form of treason. Jews should publish their books in Hebrew or designate them as translations if they appeared in German. Books by Jews or books expressing intellectual currents anathema to the Nazis reflected the Jewish "spirit" and should be purged from bookstores and libraries. Thus would the National Socialist revolution extirpate its enemies and the books expressing their "spirit": the rationalism, materialism, cosmopolitanism, egalitarianism, parliamentarism, pacifism, tolerance, assimilationism, ecumenism, and modernism the Nazis detested.     For a number of years prior to 1933 the National Socialist Society for German Culture, renamed and refounded in 1929 as the Combat League for German Culture, and the Nazi newspapers Völkischer Beobachter and Der Angriff candidly announced their future cultural policies and denounced "un-German," especially Jewish, ideas and authors. The Nazis disrupted and halted showings of the film version of Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front . In Thuringia Nazi Minister of the Interior and Education Wilhelm Frick forbade the use of Remarque's book in schools; issued an order against "nigger culture" and followed it with bans on some books, plays, and music; approved the whitewashing of a mural by Oskar Schlemmer; ordered the removal of "degenerate art" from the museum in Weimar; and appointed Nazi Prof. Hans F. K. Günther, author of several books on race, to a chair at the University of Jena. Under Nazi pressure the city government of Dessau closed the Bauhaus. Some newspapers already described these actions as the policies of the future "Third Reich."     Nazis disrupted a lecture by Thomas Mann in 1930 and halted a reading by his daughter Erika in 1931. Less noticed were the anonymous threats in telephone calls, letters, graffiti, and constant Nazi patrols that Thomas Mann, Arnold Zweig, Lion Feuchtwanger, Theodor Plievier, Carl von Ossietzky's wife, and others endured. Fritz von Unruh's home was wrecked. In 1930 Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg threatened to bring all "cultural Bolshevists" before a state tribunal. In April 1932 the Völkischer Beobachter published a declaration signed by forty-two professors advocating the protection of culture from "Kulturbolschewismus." In Der Angriff Joseph Goebbels listed a number of authors who should be lined up against the wall. Some writers escaped this psychic terror by emigrating before 1933, and others prepared for swift departure if the Nazis came to power. Between 30 January 1933 and the 10 May book burnings Germany seethed with Nazi activity against writers, their books, publishers, and bookstores. During February the daily articles on culture in the Völkischer Beobachter were a chamber of horrors of the kinds of policies that Rosenberg wanted. After the 28 February Reichstag fire and the resulting ban on the Communist Party, the Nazis attacked and arrested Communists, socialists, and pacifists, including authors, and incarcerated some in concentration camps. Months of confiscations of "Marxist" literature briefly intensified after the dissolution of the labor unions on 2 May. Hermann Goering was appointed Prussian commissar for the Nazi campaign against "trash and smut" literature, particularly pornography, especially in lending libraries. The Party and press encouraged action against the "un-German spirit" in books, which resulted in illegal confiscations and destruction of books in Jewish-owned bookstores. In March, the Sturmabteilung (SA) entered the private dwellings of the Jewish owners of the Ullstein and Mosse firms and forced them to fire their Jewish employees and to replace them with Nazis. But when it appeared that Nazis might attempt "wild" actions against research libraries, the Prussian minister of science, art, and education decreed that it was out of the question to remove Jewish, Marxist, and pacifist authors. On the whole, such institutions were protected throughout Germany during the confiscations for the book burnings and later.     The infamous 10 May 1933 public book burnings made the newly composed but unofficial blacklists of condemned ideas, authors, and books more widely known in Germany and the larger world. However, in August 1932 the Völkischer Beobachter had already published such a list of authors with a threat to ban their works when the National Socialists came to power. A few days later a committee of professional librarians obsessed with the dangers of lending "Bolshevik, Marxist, and Jewish" literature began compiling a comprehensive list, and by early March the Nazi librarian Wolfgang Herrmann had finished his influential blacklist of authors. Rosenberg's Kampfbund (Combat League) was also making lists, though Goebbels's competing Propaganda Ministry did not officially accept them. These lists were at first sent only to selected Nazis or to student organizations, but one was published in the second half of April. The early lists emphasized 12 notable authors but soon expanded to 71 and then to 131 authors organized in a number of categories. Later in 1933 twenty-one offices had banned more than a thousand books, and by 1934 over forty agencies had lists of 4,100 publications. The Bavarian police had a list of 2,293 authors of 6,843 seized and forbidden books. The first blanket bans of the entire oeuvres of certain authors were instituted by Prussian authorities in November 1934. The Reichsschrifttumskammer (RSK) listed 524 complete bans in 1935, and the number rose to 576 after the invasion of Russia in 1941.     Bookowners knew that possession of the classics of left-wing literature, from Marx through Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Kautsky to Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Stalin, was dangerous; the Nazis even labeled this "high treason." Before, at, and after the book burnings, Nazis typically classified the "un-German" books in a number of categories: antimilitarist authors Theodor Plieviers Erich Maria Remarque, Arnold Zweig; pacifists Bertha von Suttner, Alfred Hermann Fried, and Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster; left-oriented novelist-critics of bourgeois society Lion Feuchtwanger, Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, and Erich Kästner; "communists" Bertolt Brecht, Gustav Regler, and Anna Seghers; satirists of the bourgeoisie, religion, and the army like George Grosz, photomontagist John Heartfield, essayist Kurt Tucholsky, and dramatists Ernst Toiler and Georg Kaiser; the entire "Weltbühne" circle, with Carl von Ossietzky at its center, as well as literary historian Franz Mehring and critic Alfred Kerr; anti-Nazi journalists Theodor Wolff and Georg Bernhard; historians whose views about the origins (Walter Fabian, Hermann Kantorowicz, Emil Ludwig), course (Wilhelm Dittmann, Karl Tschuppik), and end (Martin Hobohm, Gustav Noske, Arthur Rosenberg, Carl Severing) of World War I and the history of the Weimar Republic (Emil Julius Gumbel, Hugo Preuss, Walter Rathenau) were incompatible with Nazi dogma; the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud; and scientists propounding an incomprehensible worldview, epitomized by the outspokenly anti-Nazi physicist Alfred Einstein, soon under attack for his "Jewish physics."     Although on 10 May 1933 Nazis chanted the "Feuersprüche," nine objectionable characteristics of books followed by the names of some of the authors, while throwing their books on bonfires, few knew the other books that were burned. Whereas anyone aware of the Nazis' views might guess quite accurately which volumes in his or her own library were suspect or condemned, the bookseller Hilde Wenzel knew that not all the books burned on 10 May 1933 were actually banned. In fact, until 1935 the Prussian police had not banned any of the volumes named at the burnings, not even Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front . The regime did not have a master plan when they took office and did not soon design one. For some years Nazi bannings and seizures of books in the fifteen German states were uncoordinated and carried out by many agencies at different levels of government.     The book burnings were a publicity stunt devised by one Nazi student organization, Deutsche Studentenschaft, to upstage another, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Studentenbund, and to curry favor with the government. Although the Nazi government had not yet formulated cultural policies, Goebbels's newly founded Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda welcomed the student initiative without contributing to the preparations. But no government ministry officially approved of the "blacklist" Herrmann first sent to the students on 1 May and frequently extended thereafter.     At the beginning of April the initiating student organization wrote of an "action against Jewish decomposition of German literature" but on 8 April outlined to its branches at German universities the month-long preparations for the action "against the Un-German Spirit," beginning with the publication of "Twelve Theses" on 12 April and ending with the nearly simultaneous book burnings on 10 May. Each university branch was to obtain authorizations and cooperation from the Nazi gauleiter as well as the local university, municipal, and police authorities: establish local "fighting committees" composed of students, professors, and representatives of the Kampfbund; collect books by the condemned authors; arrange for faculty and student fraternities or corporations to march; find speakers for the occasion: articulate the specific steps in the ceremony; and release propaganda about this complex of activities before and after 10 May. During this month they encouraged erection of Schandpfähle , wooden pilings on which they nailed shaming testimonials against those who did not share their spirit: "Today the writers, tomorrow the professors." However, the Prussian Ministry of Education, professors in Cologne, and a Hannover Nazi student committee with approval of professor-mentors intervened against installation of these posts.     The planners were very conscious of historical precedents, such as the Inquisition's auto-da-fé, Luther's destruction of the papal bulls, students burning symbols of authority at the Wartburg in 1817, a 1922 burning of Schundliteratur at Berlin's Tempelhof Field, and the burning of the Versailles Treaty with the Dawes and Young Plans by Nazi students in 1929. During the April preparations they obliquely referred to these examples and carefully stylized Hitler as a second Luther or as the fearless knight of a famous Dürer drawing. Although the students copied the methods of propaganda and organization used in the April boycott of Jewish businesses, they disagreed with its premise. They were steeped in German idealism and believed that the spiritual crisis symbolized by the book burnings was the fundamental cause of the economic crisis attacked in the boycott.     Students were asked to purge their own libraries of condemned books and to press others to do the same. Bookstores and lending libraries were also asked to contribute such books. Because of the depression far fewer people could afford books, and with the public library system unable to satisfy popular demand the gap was filled by more than 15,000 lending libraries with an estimated 30 million volumes and very low fees. They bought 2 to 3 million books each year, often 10 to 100 copies of best sellers, some by authors the Nazis condemned. On 6 May "fighting committees" of the two main Nazi student organizations, branches of the Stahlhelm (a right-wing paramilitary organization) at universities, SA troopers, and police collected and seized books from bookstores and especially lending libraries, described by Herrmann as "literary bordellos." His characterization reflected the view of professional librarians that the lending libraries spread a dangerous infection with their immoral, sexually explicit, and trashy books. Some of these books were burned four days later.     Police and the SA rather than students raided private libraries in homes and seized the "Marxist" contents of workers' libraries. Especially rewarding was an April SA search of the Berlin apartment house owned by the Schutzverband Deutscher Schriftsteller, the chief organization of German writers, and occupied by some 500 of its writer-members. Upon finding "communist" books, the SA confiscated others and arrested some occupants. A witness assumed these books were burned in May. The searchers had only a vague idea of the authors and books to be seized: from one apartment they took Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks and Oswald Spengler's Preussentum und Sozialismus as well as any other books with titles concerning socialism or revolution. From another virtually destroyed apartment they removed the children's book Uwe Karsten, Heideschulmeister by Felicita Rose, despite the owner's protest that it was not banned, because they wanted to examine it.     Many searchers seemed to enjoy rousing half-naked housewives in their bathrobes early in the morning, terrorizing apartment dwellers, and destroying their homes. They often confiscated financial papers, personal correspondence, and large personal libraries, and they stole money, jewelry, and silver. Although a few confiscated books were deposited in restricted collections in libraries, far more landed in the libraries of the Gestapo and Propaganda Ministry. The writer Franz Carl Weiskopf observed that their collectors sold many books abroad for their own profit and that many appeared in secondhand bookstores in towns such as Basel, just beyond the German border.     In Berlin one of the most destructive actions had a particular animus. At 9:30 A.M. on 6 May 100 Nazi students of the Institut für Leibesübungen invaded the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, founded in 1918 by Magnus Hirschfeld, a physician who specialized in nervous and psychiatric problems. Taken over by the Prussian state government in 1919, his institute studied homosexuality and lesbianism, advocated reform of the criminal code regarding sexuality, prepared briefs for legal cases concerning sexual crimes, and was the first German institution to provide marriage counseling. For three hours the students emptied inkwells onto carpets and broke or vandalized framed paintings and prints, glass, porcelain, or marble vessels, lights, sculptures, and decorations. They confiscated books, periodicals, photographs, anatomical models, a famous wall tapestry, and a bust of Hirschfeld. After music, speeches, and songs outside at noon they departed but were succeeded at 3:00 P.M. by SA men, who removed 10,000 books from the institute's library. A few days later they carried the bust of Hirschfeld on a pole in a torchlight parade before throwing it on the bonfire with the books from the institute.     There was virtually no resistance to any of these actions from the university authorities and faculties, the students, the libraries, bookstores, or publishers. Under the leadership of a dedicated Nazi, the official organization of German booksellers swiftly supported the new regime. At a meeting of scientific librarians in June 1933 a leading speaker accepted the book burnings, applauded the book seizures by police, and advocated the erasure of Jewish and Bolshevik writings. In Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony various authorities, including teachers, "cleansed" school libraries of unacceptable books. These were eventually replaced in many schools by "model libraries" named Dietrich-Eckart-Bücherei after a Nazi founding father, which contained thoroughly Nazi books. Teachers played a significant role in promoting this censorship and indoctrination. Thus Gleichschaltung (regimentation) was accomplished less through terror than voluntary capitulation by stores, libraries, schools, universities, and public consensus. The announcement on 8 May of the complete reorganization of the Prussian Academy of the Arts and the dissolution of its literary division, resulting in the removal of many authors denounced by the students, was another aspect of Gleichschaltung which fit perfectly with the student action.     Books were burned at thirty German universities, mostly on or within a few days of 10 May 1933 but continuing until 21 June. There were two burnings each at Hamburg and Heidelberg; none took place at Danzig, Dillingen, Freiburg im Breisgau, Regensburg, and Tübingen. The students attempted to synchronize the events from eleven until midnight on 10 May in order to exhibit the new technology of radio. The "Deutschland Sender" broadcast the activities in a number of cities, and in Munich all four of the "Bayerischen Rundfunk" carried the story. Led by marching bands, faculty in robes, student corporations in their colored sashes and distinctive caps, uniformed and beflagged Hitler Youth, SA men (many of them students), SS troopers, NSBO members (NS-Betriebszellen-Organisation, or Nazi union cells), and Stahlhelm troops paraded through the streets to the site of the bonfire, where speeches by student, municipal, and university representatives were punctuated with songs. In Frankfurt students collected the books and carried them in rented Mistwagen (manure wagons) pulled by beribboned oxen. The volumes in such a wagon symbolically became offal. Trucks usually transported the books, and chains of students passed them hand to hand to be thrown on the fires.     The event was colorful, illuminated bright as day by film company searchlights but soon obscured by smoke and drifting ash, noisy also with the enthusiastic attendance in some cities of more than 15,000 nonuniversity people controlled by police, sometimes on horseback, and the SA. Construction of the pyre, symbolism, and the weather varied greatly. Books usually topped a heap of flammable material resting on wooden scaffolding, but volumes of left-wing daily newspapers were the foundation for one. Decorations included socialist and communist slogans, symbols or acronyms on placards, a photograph of Lenin, the flag of the Weimar Republic. At 11:30 P.M. firemen nourished the flames with kerosene, and as they rose, students chanted the nine Nazi cultural canons of the "Feuersprüche," naming twenty-four authors exemplifying them (including a witness, Erich Kästner), while throwing their books on the fire. At several universities the bonfire sputtered and even died under a downpour, which caused postponements or cancellations.     Some observers dismissed the burnings as a student lark. Leading German critics, writers, and historians such as Hans Mayer, Heinrich Böll, Walter Kempowski, and Golo Mann played down their immediate and long-term symbolic importance. At least one Nazi jested that without occasionally reading a hidden copy of one of the burned books one would lack anything respectable to read. In Bonn the mayor, the professor for "Germanistik," and the professor of art reportedly said that as the flames devoured the books "the Jewish soul flew into the sky," but such a remark is not in the printed texts of the professors' speeches. Sigmund Freud offered a sardonic reassurance: "Only our books? In earlier times they would have burned us with them." Yet in accordance with their hatred for the "un-German Jewish spirit" and their belief that "the Jews are not human beings," the Nazis were already sadistically mistreating Jews in jails and concentration camps, then cremating those who died and sending their ashes home in urns. Thus the link between the burning of books and men was forged in Germany as early as 1933. Few Jews made this connection at the time. The pursuit of Communists and Socialists after the Reichstag fire, the boycott and the book burnings, the end of a free parliament and of political parties, the purging of Jews from government, the judicial system, the universities, and the professions, and other anti-Semitic excesses were frequently interpreted as manifestations of an initially radical phase that the Nazis would outgrow.     Nevertheless, well before 10 May, even before Hitler's appointment as chancellor, many Jews and leftists tried to protect themselves from Nazi reprisals by burning their papers and libraries. Some young Communists were warned during the summer of 1932 that it was "five minutes before twelve" and they should destroy all address books or lists in their possession; if they were caught carrying potentially dangerous papers, they must be prepared to swallow them. They also started early with the time-consuming process of sorting their personal effects, the records and traces of their families and their own lives, as well as their libraries. More acted after 30 January 1933, and still more after the Reichstag fire decrees at the end of February resulted in the arrests of many Communists and Social Democrats. The men and women of the Left recognized their peril. The best known of them could not escape identification and arrest by destruction of their papers and books, but they could save others whose names appeared in them. They saved themselves by hiding and fleeing into exile.     Widespread fear of house searches ( Haussuchungen ) by the SA, SS, Gestapo, and police spurred preemptive book burning. On 24 March 1933 an eleven-year-old boy came to Frau Lewinsohn, the wife of a workman who had been a Communist until 1932, and said: "Just think, I met a man who asked me to go at once to tell you to make your house really clean today. He must be crazy, everyone knows your house is clean. He gave me 50 pfennig." The occupants immediately burned their books and papers and the next day endured a search. It was most important to destroy Party membership cards and lists, address books, correspondence and diaries, photographs and memorabilia, then periodicals, pamphlets, and books with a political or aesthetic complexion condemned by the Nazis. However, some who destroyed political materials could not part from their libraries.     And those who did try to burn their books discovered that this cannot be done easily and quickly, as the Nazis themselves found at the end of the war, when they attempted to incinerate enormous collections of documents and simply did not have time. Thick bundles of paper must be separated so that air and flames consume individual sheets, or else the fire has to reach a considerable size and intensity. Otherwise the bundles are only scorched at the edges. A Jewish ophthalmologist in Berlin told of repeatedly combing through his 3,000 books to select those for destruction. Burning large volumes in stoves or fireplaces was tedious and time-consuming. One woman even obtained help from an "Aryan" janitor to burn her compromising documents. Residents of homes and apartments that used gas for heating and cooking disposed of books and pamphlets in the woods, a body of water, or a mailbox on a deserted street, or sent cartons of books to false addresses in another city.     Utilizing a legal loophole, aided by British decisiveness and the grudging cooperation of the Hamburg city government, and escaping by a few weeks the jurisdiction of Goebbels's Ministry of Propaganda, the Warburg family sent most of Aby Warburg's great library to England on two small ships. Late in 1933 carefully chosen anti-Nazi movers packed 80,000 books with thousands of photos and slides, plus the iron shelves and other equipment, into 531 boxes. This became a central scholarly resource of the Warburg-Courtauld Institute in London. Its original home in Hamburg was destroyed by bombing during the war.     Perhaps the largest preemptive removal of documents for destruction took place at the Büro Wilhelmstrasse of the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger Jüdischen Glaubens (CV), whose library the Nazis seized later. Devoted mainly to research on the National Socialist Party (NSDAP), the Berlin Büro housed a large archive expanded and organized by a Gentile employee named Walter Gyssling. It contained nearly 800 chronologically organized and cross-referenced dossiers with over 500,000 items. The six divisions of the archive encompassed the NSDAP's national and international policies, relations with other German parties and organizations, anti-Semitic agitation, destructive and criminal acts such as defacing gravestones, the struggle against the Nazis, and records about their leaders and membership. After Hitler's appointment Gyssling helped transport this archive, which contained much compromising material about the Büro and the CV, to Bavaria for eventual destruction. Few organizations were so prescient. The Nazis seized many archives of political parties, special interest groups, and lobbies early in the summer of 1933 when all parties other than the NSDAP were dissolved.     Most of the authors already mentioned had either departed from Germany before Hitler came to power because Nazi harassment made their lives intolerable, or were prepared and escaped soon after. A few died in concentration camps, like Erich Mühsam in 1934, or because of mistreatment there, like Carl von Ossietzky. After their release from concentration camp and escape into exile some of them described their experiences: Willi Bredel in Die Prüfung , Gerhard Seger in Oranienberg , Karl Billinger in Schutzhäftling 880 , Walter Hornung in Dachau , and Wolfgang Langhoff in Die Moorsoldaten . A few publishers and authors chose suicide, others exile. Some committed suicide in exile: Kurt Tucholsky in Sweden, 1935; Ernst Toller in New York City, 1939; Stefan Zweig, with his second wife, in Petropolis near Rio de Janeiro, 1942.     Yet some who emigrated successfully resumed their literary careers and at the same time contributed from outside to the resistance to Hitler and nazism. Many left-wing publishers and their employees fled early and continued their work abroad. Two from Verlag Gustav Kiepenheuer found places in Amsterdam, Walter Landauer at Verlag Allert de Lange and Fritz Landshoff at Querido Verlag. Wieland Herzfelde reestablished the Malik Verlag in Prague until 1938. Willi Münzenberg was at Editions du Carrefour in Paris. All of these publishers and the Swiss-owned Oprecht Verlag in Zurich, which also used the names Europa Verlag and Aufbruch Verlag in publishing exile authors, were entirely banned at the end of 1938. In June 1934 the Nazis forced the Ullstein family (of Jewish descent) to sell their entire huge complex of newspapers, magazines, and publishing houses, including the Ullstein Verlag and the Propyläen Verlag, though the Ullsteins themselves did not emigrate until 1937 and 1939. Adolf Neumann of Rütten and Loening Verlag fled to Norway in 1934, and the firm was sold in July 1936. The founder of the S. Fischer Verlag died 15 October 1934, but not until April 1936 did his heirs sell to a group financed mainly by a tobacco company, Philipp Reemtsma. They transferred some rights and inventory to Suhrkamp and retained other rights for the refounded firm in Austria, where they shipped 780,000 volumes of their stock. Few exiled authors and publishers prospered. They could not find an audience comparable to the one they had lost. The impact of Nazi book burning, censorship, anti-Semitism, and repression on German bookstores and readers can be dramatically illuminated through the experiences of a Jewish bookseller, as recounted in the autobiography of Hilde Wenzel, the daughter of a well-known Jewish defense lawyer. After her marriage, her husband, Peter, was listed as the legal owner of their bookstore in Berlin-Charlottenburg from 1933 to 1938, presumably because they hoped he would not be identified as Jewish, as she undeniably was.     Between 1933 and 1937 she and her husband avoided trouble with the authorities about the books they sold, even though booksellers did not have access to the official lists of unacceptable authors and books. The makers of cultural policy in Nazi Germany did not want to provide the outside world with proof that the Nazis systematically censored authors and literature. They also anticipated that if booksellers did not know which books were unacceptable they would censor themselves to avoid possible arrest. However, booksellers knew the names of some authors whose books had been confiscated and burned in 1933, even though those authors were not on a central list until 1935. "They realized that books by authors in exile whose citizenship had been revoked were frequently if not always dangerous, and newspapers carried announcements of such revocations. In Berlin the police periodically entered the Wenzels' store and read the names of proscribed authors and books. Hilde Wenzel discerned three grounds for books being banned: their authors were Jewish, or Marxist, or critical of National Socialist rule. In fact, authors were not banned solely for being Jewish until 1940, when all Jewish authors were banned. Although she was right about the other two categories, the Nazis had many more criteria than those she named. She also had a limited understanding of Nazi objections to some authors and their books.     She believed that if Stefan Zweig had not been banned as a Jew he would have sold nicely all along. His Marie Antoinette had been the second-best seller at Christmas 1932, but she did not know he was on Nazi lists in 1933. In 1935 their best-selling Christmas book was Zweig's Baumeister der Welt , three volumes about Balzac, Dickens, and Dostoyevsky (1920), Hölderlin, Kleist, and Nietzsche (1925), Casanova, Stendhal, and Tolstoy (1928), now republished as one. Unfortunately, Zweig was banned at Easter 1936. Although Wenzel thought he was unpolitical, some of his works in this period had a clear political purpose. Zweig later described his 1934 biography of Erasmus as a "veiled self-portrait" of a "humanist who, though he understood the madness of the time more clearly than the professional world-reformers, for all his sound reason was, tragically enough, unable to oppose unreason." His 1936 study of Castellio versus Calvin also reconstituted humanism as a form of resistance to Hitler and nazism. As humanists, Erasmus and Castellio argued for tolerance in a time of religious wars, but tolerance was ineffectual against nazism, and the new humanism hardly sufficed. Heinrich Mann's huge novel about Henry IV of France, published in German in Amsterdam in 1936 when his books had already been banned in Germany, is another example of this genre. A number of Hilde Wenzel's customers probably read such books in order to reaffirm their own humanistic orientation. But an opponent of nazism inside Germany thought that this kind of humanism and pacifism, which he found in the works of Erich Kästner, lacked a positive "fighting foundation" and was ineffective against national socialism.     Hilde Wenzel assumed that Kästner was banned because he was a Jew (this was incorrect) and was puzzled that the authorities apparently did not even notice until 1938 that the popular travel writer Richard Katz was a Jew. Actually, the Nazis banned Kästner, Arthur Schnitzler, and Gustav Mayrink as "dekadenten Zivilisationsliteratentums," decadent literary people with the values of Western liberal civilization. She apparently did not understand this category. The censors probably considered Richard Katz's travel writings harmless. They may not have known that he was a Jew, but Jewishness was not yet sufficient cause for censorship. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws first provided a legal definition of a Jew. In 1938 the Nazis finally began the "Herculean labor" of compiling a complete list of Jewish authors but never completed it. No wonder the booksellers did not always know why authors were banned or which were Jews.     Her customers also explored a category that Hilde Wenzel described as "wolves in sheep's clothing." First among them was Johann Huizinga's In the Shadow of Tomorrow: A Diagnosis of the Spiritual Distemper of Our Time , written by this famous medievalist in Dutch and published in German in Switzerland in 1935, in English in 1936. She and her husband recognized the author, probably for his classic The Waning of the Middle Ages (1924), but could not fathom why at least ten copies of the new book sold until she read it herself. The book analyzes central intellectual traits of national socialism in rather abstract language, without much explicit mention of Hitler or the Nazis. The Nazi authorities eventually grasped its subversiveness and banned it. Also frequently read were Gustav Le Bon's The Crowd (1895) and Ortega y Gasset's Revolt of the Masses (1929), whose titles suggested explanations of the nature of national socialism. Both were available in cheap German paperback editions. She did not know whether these were banned.     She classified other categories of reading as forms of "flight," such as "Flight into History," though they were more than pure escapism. Her readers might flee the present in reading about Tiberius, Queen Elizabeth, and Napoleon, but they obviously hoped to understand Hitler as well. Nero's persecution of Christians in ancient Rome offered analogies to Nazi persecution of Jews, as did Leopold von Ranke on the sectarian fanaticism and violence of the German Reformation. Books about the French Revolution and Napoleon and Jacob Burckhardt's Force and Freedom delineated natural stages in other revolutions, which helped readers understand the Nazi revolution.     Her readers also fled the present into the classics of German literature. In an entire year before the Nazi period she did not sell so many copies of Schiller, Kleist, and Goethe as in one month during the years after Hitler took power. Goethe was much more popular than Schiller, and Kleist was a distant third: thus the less political, the better. The dissolution of numerous households made many used copies available. Heinrich Heine also sold well, at least until 1937. She knew that he was not banned, although many assumed that he was on the Nazi list as a Jew, an exile in Paris, and a critic of repression and censorship in post-Napoleonic Germany.     Another form of flight from Germany was reading about distant parts of the globe. Wenzel's customers read Chinese and Japanese literature, or authors who wrote about China and Japan such as Pearl Buck, Alice Tisdale Hobart, Nora Waln, and the French physician Albert Gervais. They particularly liked Victor George Heiser's Eines Arztes Weltfahrt , a best seller in English as An American Doctor's Odyssey (1936), which recorded visits to forty-five countries. Also very popular were translations of John Galsworthy, Joseph Conrad, and Romain Rolland, especially Jean Christophe , where readers could immerse themselves in the values of better days. Hilde carefully kept Rolland's books out of the display window and sold them only to trusted customers because of his pacifism and his condemnation of nazism. As she remarked, "the more the radio was controlled by the Party and the State, the worse the theater and the movies were, the more the Germans read books." This was not the only reason. Jews were afraid of insults and harassment at the theater and movies even before they were legally excluded from them. Gradually they were being mentally and morally segregated. They might escape in their reading. (Continues...) Copyright © 2001 University of Massachusetts Press. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Jonathan RoseLeonidas E. HillStanislao G. PuglieseYitzchak KeremDavid E. FishmanArlen Viktorovich BliumSigrid Pohl PerryRosemary HorowitzSem C. SutterDina AbramowiczHerman KrukCharlotte Guthmann OpfermannAnnette Biemond PeckJohn RoddenAndras RiedlmayerJoy A. Kingsolver and Andrew B. Wertheimer
Introductionp. 1
Part I Destruction and Preservation
I The Nazi Attack on "Un-German" Literature, 1933-1945p. 9
II Bloodless Torture: The Books of the Roman Ghetto under the Nazi Occupationp. 47
III The Confiscation of Jewish Books in Salonika in the Holocaustp. 59
IV Embers Plucked from the Fire: The Rescue of Jewish Cultural Treasures in Vilnap. 66
V "The Jewish Question" and Censorship in the USSRp. 79
PART II Culture and Resistance
VI The Secret Voice: Clandestine Fine Printing in the Netherlands, 1940-1945p. 107
VII Reading and Writing during the Holocaust as Described in Yisker Booksp. 128
VIII Polish Books in Exile: Cultural Booty across Two Continents, through Two Warsp. 143
Part III The Reader in the Holocaust: Documents
IX The Library in the Vilna Ghettop. 165
X Library and Reading Room in the Vilna Ghetto, Strashun Street 6p. 171
XI When the Printed Word Celebrates the Human Spiritp. 201
XII Crying for Freedom: The Written Word as I Experienced It during World War IIp. 206
Part IV Present and Past
XIII Zarathustra as Educator? The Nietzsche Archive in German Historyp. 213
XIV Convivencia under Fire: Genocide and Book Burning in Bosniap. 266
Part V Bibliography
XV Jewish Print Culture and the Holocaust: A Bibliographic Surveyp. 295
Notes on Contributorsp. 311