Again, Books Must Be Burned

Roland Tichy is a prize-winning German journalist known for his politically incorrect opinions. The following essay was published back in August on the author’s website. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:

Again, Books Must Be Burned

by Roland Tichy

Books are burning again in Bad Dürrheim: 3,200 books of the City library were destroyed. To be fair, it must be said that we do not know whether they were shredded or actually burned. At any rate, the action took place publicly, like an ambush, planned beforehand and without the participation of the librarian. Librarian Regina Hofmann had to hastily open her library on the first day of her vacation. Then members of the government presidium sanitized its contents. The rationale was that this had to do with old travel guides, books that were dirty or were never taken out. Ultimately, it was said that this was about a “barrier-free configuration” in libraries, and space was needed for that.

False Writing Style Is Being Eradicated

In the past, Hofmann had culled 500 books to make room for new ones. But this time it is not the usual and understandable update. This procedure is targeting books with a “false” style. These are the ones that, for example contain the word “Negro.” It even affected Erich Kästner, author of such famous children books as The Flying Classroom, Anna Louise and Anton and Lottie and Lisa. Evidently, his books are considered in Baden-Württemberg to be provocative and an offense against the state-sponsored zeitgeist of re-education to political correctness in the schools.

Children’s books being sanitized — this has been going on for some years now. Otto Preußler’s children’s classics such as The Little Witch, Bandit Hotzenplotz or Krabat are being combed through, according to the publisher Klaus Willberberg of Stuttgart’s Thienemann-Publishing. Expressions such as “little Negro” are being deleted. The Hamburg publisher Friedrich Oetinger has also deleted obsolete words including “Negro” and “Gypsy” in all new editions since 2009, because they no longer correspond to the contemporary “picture of humanity and language usage, and could be misunderstood.” Even Maja the Bee is changed in the new edition. Apparently, literature is being sanitized retrospectively — books that are “false” from today’s point of view are banned from libraries.

Erich Kästner For The Second Time

This is not the first time for Erich Kästner. His books had already landed on the bonfires of the infamous Nazi book burning, which plundered the intellectual literary wealth of Germany, in an effort to prevent any form of free thought. And the dictatorship that followed the Nazis also liked burning literature: “On the evening of International Children’s Day in 1955, students and Young Pioneers of elementary school #18 in Berlin-Pankow threw dirty and trashy literature on the fire. They supplied the impetus for a wave of parental gatherings which demanded a ban on trashy and dirty literature in the territory of the German Democratic Republic.” That — as part of our background picture — is the text from East Germany’s General German News Agency.

The Wording Is Decisive

Literature just has things that are subversive, and confused, and it leads to independent thinking. Conformity with the spirit of the times is the measure of things. Historical consciousness? Bad idea, because: “Proper style is important for children particularly,” says the book-banisher Christina Kälberer to justify the action. First, we must deal with the idea that literature that does not meet the new standards must be disposed of. But then the Gates of Hell open wide. So outside of wording, in some books terminology is not in tune with the times. For instance, as the Südkurier newspaper reports, Kälberer mentions the word “Negro” which still occurs in classics. Apparently the Green-Red political commissars in Diversityland are doing a good job with the intended re-education.

Caution, Irony

There is some good news. We can begin with the fact that the new form of book burning leaves no residue and is CO2-neutral, done in a facility which was funded in accordance with the Renewable Energy Law. Presumably, the ignition of the books was accomplished in a facility with power-heat coupling. From this it can be seen that the Nazis with their bonfires were just a mob of primitives, and progress is moving inexorably forward. And the library of burned books is bulging again. If you should find in your bookshelves even older, tattered but original editions of Lottie and Lisa, Jim Knopf and Lukas the Train Engineer or Bandit Hotzenplotz, we recommend you save them, but in some place that is not easy to guess. You should not go so far as Hans Herbert Grimm, the author of the anti-war novel Schlump, published in 1928. He walled his manuscript up during the times of the Nazis and the GDR, where it was only re-discovered a few years ago.

12 thoughts on “Again, Books Must Be Burned

  1. They might have put the books up for sale and raised a bit of money. It seems that here on the western shore of the Atlantic, public libraries are often strapped for cash.

  2. ‘In the Baltic states, where the Soviets took longer to establish full control, there was a similar preoccupation with targeting anyone who was classified as a potential enemy of the people. Along with such measures as the nationalization of commercial enterprises and the banning of books and other literature deemed as anti-Soviet or nationalist, the arrests began in earnest in Lithuania on the eve of the first elections under Soviet control. Two thousand people were rounded up on the night of July 11 to 12, 1940, and the arrests continued at the rate of two to three hundred a month until the end of the year.’ (Nagorski, A. The Greatest Battle, Simon & Schuster, Kindle location 1562)

  3. It is not Germany throwing history away, it is globalist statists. This happens often in the United States as well (most librarians are full participants in anarcho-tyranny), and I’m weary of seeing Germans blamed for everything wrong with the modern world. I make a point of buying used children’s books here that I know have information unpalatable to SJWs. Plenty of “Little Golden Books” with unapproved words, phrases, or images which served to help educate my children in historical reality and insulate them from idiocracy.

  4. Luckily, only a small portion of all books printed are in possession of public libraries. I keep mine like a treasure. But developments like this make one shift priorities and take to the antiques shops and online auctions to go whole-hog collecting.

  5. A similar tendency occurred during the long era of Anti-Anti-Communism in the U.S.A. See Diana West’s recent article on censorship & self-censorship of books and Hollywood movie scripts during the 40s and 50s that did not toe the line on Communism:

    Banned Books: Saving Comrade Stalin

    One should read the whole thing; but one passage was especially poignant:


    Ex- Communist Hollywood director Edward Dmytryk relates in his 1996 memoir Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten, the following exchange he had with producer Adrian Scott near the beginning of their fruitful collaboration that produced such films asCornered, Crossfire, and Murder, My Sweet. There they were, two young princes of Hollywood, strolling across the RKO lot one day, when Dmytryk mentioned he’d been reading an interesting book.

    “What book,” asked Scott.
    “Koestler’s Darkness at Noon,” I replied.
    Adrian stopped short, and, as I turned to face him, he spoke in a subdued voice. “Good God!” he said. “Don’t ever mention that to anyone in the group!” “Why not?” I was honestly puzzled.
    “It’s on the list!” he breathed, looking a little embarrassed. “Koestler is corrupt—a liar. He is an ex-communist, and no member of the Party is allowed to read him.”31

    Dmytryk was flabbergasted. Not only had he been unaware of such a “list,” he hadn’t known Scott was a Party member. (That this was a revelation demonstrates the effectiveness of “cells” in maintaining Party secrecy.) Allowed by whom? Dmytryk wanted to ask, but he writes that he didn’t say anything. In the end, of course, no movie fan was “allowed” to see Koestler’s gripping indict- ment of Communism on the silver screen, either—or any other anti-Communist story like it.


    • This reminds me of what happened to the original prints of “Amos ‘n’ Andy”. If I remember correctly, the Hollywood mogul who owned them came to his senses, realized how “racist” they were, and had them removed from the vault and burned. A priceless cultural treasure — gone, destroyed. And we’re all the better for it, comrades!

  6. In the USA, the local libraries cull books by holding book sales.

    I guess there is something in the genes of Leftists?

  7. This is just about the most depressing thing about the progress in our societies, this regression into totalitarianism. Orwell predicted this perfectly decades ago and showed how creativity must end when words and thoughts are censored.

    The Prevention of Literature:

    “But however it may be with the physical sciences, or with music, painting
    and architecture, it is–as I have tried to show–certain that
    literature is doomed if liberty of thought perishes. Not only is it
    doomed in any country which retains a totalitarian structure; but any
    writer who adopts the totalitarian outlook, who finds excuses for
    persecution and the falsification of reality, thereby destroys himself as
    a writer. There is no way out of this. No tirades against “individualism”
    and the “ivory tower”, no pious platitudes to the effect that “true
    individuality is only attained through identification with the
    community”, can get over the fact that a bought mind is a spoiled mind.
    Unless spontaneity enters at some point or another, literary creation is
    impossible, and language itself becomes something totally different from
    what it is now, we may learn to separate literary creation from
    intellectual honesty. At present we know only that the imagination, like
    certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. Any writer or
    journalist who denies that fact–and nearly all the current praise of
    the Soviet Union contains or implies such a denial–is, in effect,
    demanding his own destruction.”

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