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Censorship in Nazi Germany

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Censorship in Nazi Germany was extreme and strictly enforced by the governing Nazi Party, but specifically by Joseph Goebbels and his Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Censorship within Nazi Germany included control of all forms of mass communication, which included newspaper, music, literature, radio, and film.[1] The same body also produced and disseminated their own literature which were solely devoted to furthering Nazi ideas and myths. Anti-semitism lay at the core of their works, including 1940 films such as Jud Süß and The Eternal Jew. The ministry promoted the cult of Adolf Hitler by sponsoring early films such as Triumph of the Will of the 1934 rally and The Victory of Faith made in 1933, and which survives now as a single copy recently discovered in the UK. It was banned by the Nazis owing to the prominent role of Ernst Roehm, who was murdered by Hitler on the Night of the Long Knives in 1934.

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  • Nazi Book Burning
  • NAZI GERMANY: Terror and Propaganda
  • The Nazi Propaganda Machine (1933-1945)


Books represent humanity at its best and its worst. To burn books is simply a fundamental repression of ideas. I mean, what can a book do? And why is it so dangerous that it needs to be physically annihilated? In 1933, the National Socialist German Workers Party, called the Nazis for short, came to power in Germany and established a dictatorship under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. The Nazis intended to re-arm Germany and to reorganize the German state on the principle that the German ethnic group or race was superior to all others in Europe. They suppressed all dissent within Germany, making it a crime to criticize the regime. The newly established Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment set up various chambers to control specific aspects of German culture such as art, literature, theater, film, music, virtually all forms of entertainment and all forms of dissemination of news. In 1933, in April, Nazi German students decided to organize a nationwide book burning program to eliminate foreign influence, to purify German culture as they saw it. So you have committees of students meeting with professors together deciding what categories of books in these university libraries would count as un-German. They didn't see themselves as suppressing culture. They saw themselves as advancing Aryan German culture. I remember very distinctly a conversation between my parents and some friends who were all shocked that a nation like the Germans, an educated, highly intelligent nation, would burn books. Books never hurt anybody. The event that the students planned occurred on May 10, 1933. In each German university city, thirty-four of them in all, thousands of people gathered together at a public place in which books that had been confiscated either by the students themselves or by Nazi Party officials, often with the help of police, were brought and dumped in a pile. Student leaders exhorted their followers and the listening crowds to swear an oath by the fire, to destroy and combat subversive and un-German literature. "For the national treason against our soldiers in World War I, we're burning Hemingway's books." --Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minister himself spoke at the book burning in Berlin. It is amazing to me the variety of books that was burned on that night and thereafter. -Among the authors whose books were burned were Ernest Hemingway...both Mann brothers, Thomas and Heinrich... --There's the German writer, Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote the famous book All Quiet on the Western Front... Helen Keller... Jack London, the American nature writer... There's very little that unites all of these books really except that they were all considered dangerous by the Nazis. A grand total of the number of volumes, perhaps best estimates would be between eighty or ninety thousand volumes. For weeks afterwards, books were confiscated from libraries, from bookshops, and from private collections. In 1939, the Nazi regime initiated what became the Second World War. During the course of this war, the Nazis begin to implement their population policy, a priority element of which was the annihilation of six million Jews on the European continent in a mass murder, a genocide that we now call the Holocaust. I was about 11 when i read the diary of Anne Frank. And it was translated into Persian. Reading about Anne Frank and millions of other Iranians reading Anne Frank, they discover that they are that little girl. And that what happened to that little girl was a supreme act of injustice. And so they connect to her in away that no political sermon, or propaganda could affect. The first thing every totalitarian regime does, along with confiscation and mutilation of reality, is confiscation of history and confiscation of culture. I think they all happen, almost simultaneously. And they surely happened in my experience when I was living in Iran. For me it's both heartbreaking and, quote unquote, a sort of badge of honor that my book is not allowed to be published in Iran. It has been translated into thirty-five languages and not in Persian. Really all literature is dangerous to a regime that fears the free flow of ideas. Because the literature in its most fundamental way is meant to forge connections among human beings. --Because you don't know where it takes you. Knowledge is always unpredictable, there is always a risk. It is like Alice jumping down that hole, running after that white rabbit, not knowing where she goes. And for tyrants, control is the main thing. They don't like this unpredictability, they don't want the citizens to connect to the unknown parts of themselves, of their past, and to connect to the world. --For a totalitarian regime this is perhaps the most dangerous thing. Because these regimes are predicated on the idea that the people within them will resign themselves the thinking that this is all there is. And that there aren't any other options. I think the shame is ours, is everyone's. We all have to think that as humans we share the best and worst, and that as human beings what happened then can happen again. --How serious those warning signs were taken is exemplified by my mother, who, when I asked her if we had to worry about a guy like Hitler, she said, "No. We are living in a democracy. We have the protection of the police. Nobody's going to hurt us." So talk about warning signs, there were plenty of them. Did w Did we take them seriously? My family didn't. Never believed that Germans would stoop so low that they would implement the threats which one fanatic uttered... And so, our own life went from bad to worse and it culminated in July of 1942, when we were arrested and sent to a concentration camp. To make this clear, it was a life without hope. The only thing that they cannot put in jail, or prevent from physically leaving, is your mind, is your imagination. That cannot be captured. But the idea of freedom should be kept alive, even if it's between two people or three people. Talk about it, think about it, live about it, and hope about it.


The ministry tightly controlled information available to their citizens. Almost all Modernist art, such as Impressionism and Expressionism, was considered degenerate art by the Nazi regime, and much modern music such as Jazz and Swing was also barred as degenerate music. Jewish composers like Mendelssohn and Schoenberg were also banned. Amongst those authors and artists who were suppressed both during the Nazi book burnings and the attempt to destroy modernist fine art in the "degenerate" art exhibition were:[2]

Artists such as

Composers such as

Philosophers, scientists, and sociologists were suppressed by Nazi Germany:

Politicians suppressed by Nazi Germany:

To avoid censorship of books they were often given an innocent looking cover, so called Tarnschriften.

See also


  1. ^ "Control and opposition in Nazi Germany". BBC Bitesize.
  2. ^ Adam, Peter (1992). Art of the Third Reich. New York:, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.., pp. 121-122
  3. ^ The Engineer as Ideologue: Reactionary Modernists in Weimar and Nazi Germany - J Herf - Journal of Contemporary History (SAGE, London, Beverly Hills …, 1984 – [1]
This page was last edited on 14 March 2021, at 01:23
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