The greatest plunder

Journalist Anders Rydell documents the Nazis’ extensive, zealous book-theft campaign.

By GLENN C. ALTSCHULER
February 23, 2017 17:29
4 minute read.
Nazi Germany

The Nazis stage a book burning at a public square in Berlin in 1933. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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The Nazis burned books. Organized as celebratory events, the book burning in the 1930s targeted the works of communists, pacifists, writers and intellectuals from the Weimar Republic, Freemasons and, of course, Jews. University administrators, professors and students cleaned out libraries of “dirty literature.”

Less well known is the obsession of Nazis with collecting books. According to journalist Anders Rydell, their zeal to turn libraries and archives, and the history, legacy and memory of Jews against themselves “set in motion the most extensive book theft in the history of the world.”

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