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Image of Burned Books

Book Burning

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." (German: "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.")—Heinrich Heine, from his play Almansor (1821)

| Don't Join the Book Burners | Century | Related Sites | Headlines and Quotations | Bibliography | Index librorum prohibitorum, 1557–1966 | Religious Works |

Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings

In light of the historical actions of the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country in response to the Nazi book burnings, we are proud to share news of an exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.  Exhibit Information.

In 1943, midway through World War II, the U.S. Office of War Information used this poster to help Americans understand why we were fighting.



Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as any document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.

How will we defeat communism unless we know what it is, what it teaches, and why does it have such an appeal for men, why are so many people swearing allegiance to it? It's almost a religion, albeit one of the nether regions.

And we have got to fight it with something better, not try to conceal the thinking of our own people. They are part of America. And even if they think ideas that are contrary to ours, their right to say them, their right to record them, and their right to have them at places where they're accessible to others is unquestioned, or it's not America.

—Dwight David Eisenhower

From the remarks of the President of the United States at the Dartmouth College Commencement, June 14, 1953. Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library.


Book Burning in circa 200 B.C.E.

Book Burning in the 16th Century

Book Burning in the 19th Century

Book Burning in the 20th Century

Nazi Germany 

Book Burning in the 21st Century

Related Sites

Banned Books Week

When Books Burn

Bonfire of Liberties: Censorship of the Humanities

He Who Destroyes a Good Booke, Kills Reason It Selfe1: An Exhibition of Books Which Have Survived Fire, the Sword and the Censors, University of Kansas Library 1955

Headlines and Quotations

Book Burning from FAIFE (Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression)

Quotations and Links from American Library Association, Banned Books Week


Ditchfield, P. H. (Peter Hampson), 1854-1930, Books fatal to their authors. London, E. Stock, 1895. xx, 244 p., 1 l. 18 cm.

Farrer, James Anson, 1849-1925, Books condemned to be burnt. London, E. Stock, 1892. xi, [1], 206 p., 1 l. 18 cm., The Book-lover’s library, Limited to the history of book fires in England.

Garden, Nancy. The Year They Burned the Books. Sept. 1999. 256p. Farrar, $17 (0-374-38667-6).

Gillett, Charles Ripley. Burned Books: Neglected Chapters in British History and Literature. New York, Columbia University Press, 1932.

Knuth, Rebecca. Libricide: The Regime-Sponsored Destruction of Books and Libraries in the Twentieth Century.  West Port, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2003. ISBN: 027598088X.

Knuth, Rebecca. Burning Books and Leveling Libraries: Extremist Violence and Cultural Destruction. West Port, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2006. ISBN-10: 0275990079; ISBN-13: 978-0275990077.

Index librorum prohibitorum, 1557–1966

“And if anyone should read or possess books by heretics or writings by any author condemned and prohibited by reason of heresy or suspicion of false teaching, he incurs immediately the sentence of excommunication.” — Council of Trent: Rules on Prohibited Books

1Quotation from Areopagitica, by John Milton

Links to non-ALA resources and sites have been provided because they may have information of interest. Neither the American Library Association nor the Office for Intellectual Freedom necessarily endorses the views expressed or the facts presented in these resources or on these sites; and furthermore, ALA and OIF do not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available in these resources or on these sites.

Related Files

Fighting the Fires of Hate
Poster from the Holocaust Museum (PDF File)

Related Links

Fighting the Fires of Hate
Destruction of Libraries
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