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Against the Un-German Spirit: Book-Burning Ceremony in Berlin (Image 2) (May 10, 1933)
The Nazi "coordination" [Gleichschaltung] of German culture and literature began soon after Hitler became chancellor. Art was to be rid of all "un-German" elements and used as an instrument in the ideological and racial awakening of the national community [Volksgemeinschaft]. In May and June of 1933, in the context of its operation "Against the Un-German Spirit," the National Socialist German Students' League (NSDStB) organized a nationwide "purification campaign" directed at public and private libraries. "Un-German" writings by a range of authors, such as Karl Marx, Heinrich and Klaus Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Sigmund Freud, Carl von Ossietzky and Kurt Tucholsky were subsequently burned in bonfires in a number of university cities. The largest of these events took place on May 10, 1933, on Berlin’s Opera Square [Opernplatz], where approximately 20,000 books were consigned to the flames. Within the framework of its "purification campaign," the NSDStB also drew up a long "blacklist" of writers, books, and other sorts of publications and banned them from that point on.