During the burning of books under the Nazi regime on May 10, 1933, many works were thrown into the flames while statements known as "fire oaths" were read. These statements declared why, in the Nazi view, the works of certain authors were to be burned.
What is Book Burning?
Book burning refers to the ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials. Usually carried out in a public context, the burning of books represents an element of censorship and usually proceeds from a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question.
Book burning has a long and dark history. Perhaps the most famous of these events was the burning of books under the Nazi regime on May 10, 1933.
Which Authors were Named in the Fire Oaths?
The day before the scheduled book burnings, the German Student Association sent out a circular which contained statements to be read as books were tossed to the flames. These so-called "fire oaths" accompanied the burning of works written by the individual authors named in the statements.
3. Against opportunism and political betrayal
For devotion to nation and state
F. W. Förster
4. Against soul-shredding overvaluation of sexual activity
For the nobility of the human soul
Freudian School, magazine Imago
7. Against literary betrayal of the soldiers of the World War
For the education of the nation in the spirit of standing to battle
Erich Maria Remarque
8. Against the arrogant corruption of the German language
For the cultivation of the most precious possession of our nation
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? What was reaction like outside of Germany?
- Why do oppressive regimes promote or support censorship and book burning? Why might this be a warning sign for mass atrocity?