The University of Arizona
Main Library

Tucson, Arizona

News Release 
Contact: Lisa Bunker, at BunkerL@u.library.arizona.edu; phone: (520) 621-4869

or Bonnie Travers at traversb@u.library.arizona.edu; phone: (520) 621-4295

For immediate release 

WHEN BOOKS BURN,
EXHIBITION OF BOOKS DENOUNCED BY THE NAZIS, OPENS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA MAIN LIBRARY ON MAY 7th

An exhibit remembering the authors and their books, and celebrating intellectual freedom

TUCSON, ARIZONA—The University of Arizona Main Library is pleased to present the exhibition, When Books Burn, on view at the Main Library's third floor exhibition area from May 7 through July 10, 2001. Curated by graduate School of Information Resources and Library Science student Lisa Waite Bunker, and Bonnie Travers, Special Collections Librarian. Entrance display by Peter Beudert, Associate Professor of Theater Arts, and translations by Dr. Roland Richter, Associate Professor Emeritus of German Studies. 

The public is invited to an opening reception Thursday, May 10 from 5:30 to 8:00 PM in the Main Library. The event features a presentation by authors Gerda Weissmann Klein and Kurt Klein at 7:00 PM, followed by a booksigning.  

In Berlin, Germany on May 10, 1933, in a carefully orchestrated spectacle, Nazi SA troops and student groups transported over 20,000 "unwanted" books to the Opernplatz, and burned them. As books by Thomas Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Karl Marx and H.G. Wells burned, torch-bearing Nazis paraded chanting the twelve "theses," their manifesto for the "purification" of German literature and thought. All over Germany, public and private lending libraries were advised to rid their shelves of books deemed by the Nazi government to be "un-German." The Nazi government was not the first to burn books, nor will it be the last.

The exhibition features editions in the University of Arizona library collection which were published before and during the era of the book burnings. The majority of the books displayed were written by authors whose names appeared on various proscribed lists developed from 1932-1939. The display also includes photographic prints of the Nazi book burnings which have been obtained from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archives in Washington, D.C.

According to Co-Curator Lisa Bunker, "The repression of specific forms of expression, of ideas, of language, and of books, was part of the Nazis' deliberate attempt to re-make Germany in their own image." The May 1933 book-burnings were part of a larger push by Hitler and the Nazi party to control the country's media, and by extension, its political processes. Between January, when Hitler was made Chancellor of Germany, and July of 1933, the Nazi party was to dissolve parliament, outlaw all rival political parties, and through a succession of laws and decrees, make Hitler the dictator of his "new" Germany.

ABOUT GERDA WEISSMANN KLEIN AND KURT KLEIN 

Gerda Weissmann Klein is the author of numerous books and an Academy Award-winning film about her experiences during the Holocaust, and her eventual liberation by American forces. Her first book, All But My Life, is an open, intimate and uplifting account of her childhood in Poland and her struggles as she was separated from first her brother, then her parents, and sent to work in the weaving mills which supported the German war effort. When she was liberated by American forces in May of 1945, she was one of only 120 survivors of a group of 2,000 young Jewish women who had been forced to march through the dead of winter with little protection or food, and only the nourishment of her hope. One of her liberators, a U.S. Army Intelligence officer named Kurt Klein, began to visit Gerda while she recuperated. Kurt and Gerda were to discover a bond and love that has lasted over 50 years. Gerda has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and was featured on 60 Minutes. Recently, she was the subject of a Nightline broadcast in connection with her work with Columbine High School students.

Kurt Klein grew up in Germany during the years when the Nazi party was growing in power and influence. In Heidelberg, at 13, he witnessed one of the Nazi book burnings. By 1937, Kurt had made his way to America, and he and his siblings began their long and ultimately unsuccessful struggle to rescue their parents. That story became the focus of the award-winning PBS documentary, America and the Holocaust, an exploration of the American political and ideological response to the reality of the Holocaust. During the war, Klein also came into contact with the "Schindler" Jews and was able to facilitate their evacuation into the interior of the American zone.

Today, Mr. and Mrs. Klein operate the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation which seeks to promote the teaching of tolerance and respect for others, and encourage community service focusing on ending hunger.  They have also co-authored a book, The Hours After, Letters of Love and Longing in War's Aftermath based on their immediate post-war correspondence. 

 

Krieg, by Ludwig Renn, a banned book
Krieg by Ludwig Renn, a book banned for its realistic portrayal of WWI

List of banned books, 1938
List of "unwanted" books, 1938

May 10, 1933: Opernplatz as books burn
Berlin's Opernplatz on May 10, 1933

May 10, 1933: Unloading books to be burned
SA troops and Nazi student group members unload books to be burned

May 10, 1933: SA trooper throws books onto the bonfire
A bonfire of ideas

May 10, 1933: Goebbels' speech
Hermann Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister, makes a speech praising the actions of the "students"

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE
FROM THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM 

PUBLIC PROGRAMS & EVENTS

OPENING RECEPTION, TALK AND BOOK SIGNING
THURSDAY, MAY 10, 5:30-8 PM; Talk and Book Signing at 7 PM 
After their talk, Mr. and Mrs. Klein will sign copies of their books. 

BOOK AND VIDEO INFORMATION

THE HOURS AFTER: LETTERS OF LOVE AND LONGING IN WAR'S AFTERMATH
by Gerda Weissmann Klein and Kurt Klein
New York: St. Martins Press, 2000 
Hardcover, $23.95
Paperback, $13.95

ALL BUT MY LIFE: A MEMOIR
by Gerda Weissmann Klein
New York: Hill & Wang, 1995, c1957
Hardcover, $25.00
Paperback, $12.00

ONE SURVIVOR REMEMBERS
video by Gerda Weissmann Klein
Kary Antholis, Director and Producer
1995; 39 minutes, $29.95
Winner of 1996 Academy Award for "Best Documentary Short"
 

GENERAL INFORMATION
 
EXHIBITION: When Books Burn
DATES: May 7 - July 10, 2001
HOURS: Due to construction, library hours are subject to change: call 520-621-6441 for up-to-date information.
ADMISSION:  FREE
LOCATION: The Main Library is located on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson (west of McKale Arena and north of the Football Stadium).  Due to construction, access library is from Campbell Ave. via Enke Dr.  Follow orange sign to Visitor's Center. 
PARKING: Metered lot east of the library, accessed from Campbell Ave. via Enke Dr.  Follow orange sign to Visitor's Center.  Parking after 5PM is free.
INFORMATION: Visit http://dizzy.library.arizona.edu/images/burnedbooks/
PRESS: Questions? Comments? Contact Special Collections

Main Library homepage