“Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings,” a traveling exhibition created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will be on display at the Gonzaga University Foley Center Library is now open through May 5. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
This exhibition — sponsored by the Foley Center Library,
University and the Gonzaga University
Institute for Action Against Hate — focuses on fire, a Nazi Party symbol less well-known than the swastika or jackboot. Flames and fire accompanied the Third Reich from its beginning to its very end. On Jan. 30, 1933, torchlight parades heralded the beginning of the Nazi Revolution, and within months flames had destroyed the Weimar Constitution.
On May 10 of the same year, hoards of German university students sympathetic to the Nazis launched the “Action Against the Un-German Spirit,” turning works by Sinclair Lewis, Karl Marx, Ernest Hemingway, and scores of others into ashes. The nationwide book burning, called a “holocaust of books” and “bibliocaust” by Newsweek and TIME magazines, respectively, was taken as a gross offense by Americans as it violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
As World War II progressed, President Franklin D. Roosevelt continuously evoked the memory of the fires fueled by books to remind Americans of the differences between democratic
and Nazi Germany.
The exhibition, developed by Stephen Goodell, includes displays of period artifacts, documents and news coverage, along with film, video, and newsreel footage. It also examines the post-World-War-II years, exploring how the Nazi book burnings have affected American life, politics, literature, and popular culture.
The exhibition focuses on how the book-burnings became a potent symbol during World War II in
’s battle against Nazism, and concludes by examining their continued impact on our public discourse.
In addition to the traveling exhibit, the Foley Center Library will offer small displays on other aspects of book burning. Types of books targeted, burned records and present day burnings are some of the topics to be included.
For more information, visit the Web site about this exhibition.