The German poet Heinrich Heine wrote in the 19th century: “Where they burn books, they will too in the end burn people.” Less than 100 years after his death his countrymen led millions of innocent people to gas chambers and crematoria.
The book burning in National Socialist Germany was led by university students. The young people of the German Student Union bought into Hitler’s version of socialism, surrendered their wills to his version of a state controlled utopia, and enthusiastically urged the German people to hand over all books that they thought promoted an “Un-German Spirit.” If the books were not voluntarily handed over, then they were seized by force. Libraries, bookstores, and private collections were all pillaged.
The books were ceremoniously thrown into bonfires, with the students leading others in singing, chanting, and the swearing of oaths.
All were expected to participate–to comply with the groupthink. Debate, dissent, even questioning was not allowed in the socialist new world order.
The bonfires of 1933, eventually led to the gas chambers and crematoria of 1943.