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The Book Thief: Nazi Book Burning

Year 10 English

Jewish Virtual Library

In May 1933, the Nazi Party decreed that any book, “which acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home and the driving forces of our people...” was to be burnt.

Financial Times

The legacy of book burning. Most associated with the Nazis, book burnings still occur today — sometimes just for effect, sometimes with more chilling intent.


On May 10, 1933, German students under the Nazi regime burned tens of thousands of books nationwide. These book burnings marked the beginning of a period of extensive censorship and control of culture in Adolf Hitler's escalating reign of terror. In this short film, a Holocaust survivor, an Iranian author, an American literary critic, and two Museum historians discuss the Nazi book burnings and why totalitarian regimes often target culture, particularly literature.

Esther Clifford recants being a young child and witnessing the burning of books in 1933, Germany. She talks about how she saw her former friends throwing the works of Jewish Authors in the fire, and it being the first time she was ever really depressed. This is a testimony clip from Esther's full length testimony preserved in the Visual History Archive.

Holocaust Encyclopaedia

Book burning is the ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials. The Nazi burning of books in May 1933 is perhaps the most famous in history.

Britannica- Image

The 20th century's most notorious book burning took place in Berlin, Germany, in 1933, during the first year the Nazis were in power.