Heinrich Heine's Quote About Book Burning Eerily Predicted The Holocaust

In 1823, Heinrich Heine wrote the words, "Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen," or "Where books are burned, in the end, people will also be burned." More than a century later in 1933, young Nazi students in Germany organized a nationwide book burning to eliminate foreign influence. As this quote eerily predicted, the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust soon followed.

Why You Should Care

Burning a book doesn't seem like a big deal. We've got tons of 'em, and we've got the internet now too. Well, the implications of book burning go far beyond the physical act of setting a manuscript aflame. Burning a book is perhaps the oldest form of censorship, and it can signal more extreme actions to come.

As a reminder of something you know, the atrocities of the Holocaust didn't begin when people were sent to Auschwitz. The censorship of outside influence in Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany was a harbinger of things to come. As Hitler's regime took hold in Germany, state-sponsored committees popped up to censor German culture and administer propaganda campaigns in the country. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum places the beginning of the Holocaust at 1933, the year of the nationwide book-burning program organized by Nazi youth. The book burning represented the elimination of ideas from groups outside of what Hitler considered the "superior race." And where extreme censorship of ideas and influence occurs, so does extreme discrimination and oppression.

Shareable Quote

Why This Matters

Heinrich Heine was a controversial poet during his time (1797–1856) because of his radical ideas, especially in his home country of Germany. This specific quote is chilling knowing that anti-Semitism was growing in the country at the time, and Heine himself was Jewish. More importantly, seeing this quote is more than just a history lesson. Though book burning has a long history, it's not over. For just one recent example, the terrorist group ISIS made news in 2015 after a massive book burning. And while this may seem like an action that ranks pretty low of the scale of things to worry about, as we've seen, it can very well be the beginning of something serious.

Editors' Picks: The Most Interesting Videos About Book Burning

How Book Burning Began In Nazi Germany

Heinrich Heine's quote eerily predicted extreme actions that took place a century later.

Written by Curiosity Staff December 12, 2016

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.