Book Burning Memorial – In A Berlin Minute (Week 27)

In May 1933 students burnt the works of hundreds of authors on a square in Berlin (and throughout Germany). In 1994/95 a memorial called “Bibliothek” (library) conceived by Micha Ullman was built within what is today called Bebelplatz. The memorial is an underground room full of empty shelves that can be viewed through a see-through plate in the ground.

Commemorative plaques near-by state the following:

“Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort
wo man Bücher verbrennt,
verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen”

Heinrich Heine, 1820

English translation: “That was only a prelude, where they burn books, they ultimately burn people.”

“In Der Mitte dieses Platzes verbrannten am 10. Mai 1933 Nationalsozialistische Studenten die Werke Hunderter freier Schriftsteller, Publizisten, Philosophen und Wissenschaftler.”

English translation: “In the middle of this square Nazi students burnt the works of hundreds of free authors, journalists, philosophers and scientists.”

Admittedly the memorial is most effective at night when the room is lit-up. And probably least visual on the bright sunny day I recorded it. But the contrast of how the tourists and students approach the memorial with the thought of the students during the Nazi dates being riled up and burning the books, was very intriguing to me.

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