Tuesday, May 27, 2008

1933: 'Berlin Savant explains why books were burned'

At the end of 1933, six months after the initial rush of book burnings in Germany, Frederick Schonemann of the University of Berlin spoke at the Chicago council on foreign relations. The crowd was apparently already fractious when someone questioned him from the floor regarding the burning of the books. Schonemann’s reply was salutary: regarding the books burnt, he commented blithely, “a tremendous flood of books on nudism and of a general pornographic nature unfit for either juvenile or adult reading had inundated Germany, and these were burned. I am sorry to say”, he continued, “that the authors of many - of a majority - were Jewish.”
These cheap dismissals were met with more yelling from the crowd, including shouts about the fate of the books of writers such as Helen Keller and Albert Einstein. Schonemann showed he would be swayed neither by emotion nor facts: “No foreign books were burned. I think I am correct in saying that none of Miss Keller’s volumes was included.”
Kathleen McLaughlin, ‘Hecklers shout disapproval of Hitler defender. Berlin Savant explains why books were burned,’ New York Times, 15 November 1933

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