Benjamin Barr Lindsey

In 1933, Nazi students at more than 30 German universities pillaged libraries in search of books they considered to be "un-German." Among the literary and political writings they threw into the flames were the works of Benjamin Barr Lindsey.

Excerpt

Intolerance is the ultimate cowardice.
—The Companionate Marriage, 1927

Works Burned

Judge Benjamin Barr LindseyThe Revolt of Modern Youth
The Companionate Marriage

Summary

Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey (1869-1943), born in Jackson, Tennessee, achieved worldwide recognition for establishing a national juvenile court system in the United States. A champion of progressive causes, including the further emancipation of women, Lindsey published Companionate Marriage in 1927, arguing for cohabitation before marriage, birth control, and no-fault divorce. The Nazis, strongly opposed to abortion and birth control, singled out the German edition of this work for inclusion in the book burning, along with Lindsey's earlier work, The Revolt of Modern Youth. In the U.S., Lindsey was also ousted from a judgeship and disbarred for his radical views. He moved to California where he was elected to the Los Angeles County Superior Court and continued to champion causes such as feminism, birth control, and trial marriage.

Critical Thinking Questions

  • If Jews were the principal target during the Holocaust, why were books written by non-Jewish authors burned?
  • How did the German public react to the book burnings? What were some of the reactions outside of Germany?
  • Why do oppressive regimes promote or support censorship and book burning? How might this be a warning sign of mass atrocity?

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