Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany systematically destroyed an estimated 100 million books throughout occupied Europe, an act that was inextricably bound up with the murder of 6 million Jews. By burning and looting libraries and censoring “un-German” publications, the Nazis aimed to eradicate all traces of Jewish culture along with the Jewish people themselves.
The Holocaust and the Book examines this bleak chapter in the history of printing, reading, censorship, and libraries. Topics include the development of Nazi censorship policies, the celebrated library of the Vilna ghetto, the confiscation of books from the Sephardic communities in Rome and Salonika, the experience of reading in the ghettos and concentration camps, the rescue of Polish incunabula, the uses of fine printing by the Dutch underground, and the suppression of Jewish books and authors in the Soviet Union. Several authors discuss the continuing relevance of Nazi book burnings to the present day, with essays on German responses to Friedrich Nietzsche and the destruction of Bosnian libraries in the 1990s.
The collection also includes eyewitness accounts by Holocaust survivors and a translation of Herman Kruk's report on the Vilna ghetto library. An annotated bibliography offers readers a concise guide to research in this growing field.