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 Helen Keller.
I am a socialist because I believe that socialism will solve the misery of the world—give work to the man who is hungry and idle and at least give to little children the right to be born free.
—"Brutal Treatment of the Unemployed," Sacramento Star newspaper, 1921
How I Became a Socialist (Wie ich Sozialistin wurde)
Helen Keller (1880–1968) was born in Tuscumbia, a small rural town in northwest Alabama. When she was 19 months old, Keller became ill with what modern-day doctors believe was either scarlet fever or meningitis. She was left deaf and blind. With the help of her teacher and lifelong companion, Anne Sullivan, she learned how to read and communicate.
In the years after graduating from Radcliffe College, Keller became a socialist and suffragist. In her writings she championed the disabled, pacifism, improved conditions for industrial workers, and women's voting rights.
Keller donated her German royalties to a fund for German war-blind veterans. Nonetheless, her socialist and anti-war writing was burned. Her open letter of protest, published in the New York Times and elsewhere, warned the German people that the burning of books could not eradicate ideas.