Ellis Washington
Bonhoeffer vs. Nazi and progressive book burning
By Ellis Washington
November 1, 2013

"Dort, wo man Bucher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." (Where books are burned, they will, in the end burn people, too)

– Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German Poet

Eric Metaxas in chapter 10 of his celebrated book, "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy," in a subsection called "Where Books Are Burned . . ." in dramatic fashion chronicles the rise of Nazi book burning in early Nazi history just four months after Hitler assumed power on January 30, 1933. In May 1933, the Nazification of the German people continued in full force using two established Nazi tactics – Gleichschaltung (e.g., forcing into line) which was a much discussed idea Goring referenced at the German Christians' conference in Berlin the previous month. It preordained that everything in German society must fall in line with the Nazi worldview (Weltanschauung). This included the world of books and ideas being forced into a Nazi worldview, or if incompatible with Nazification, then systematically destroyed.

Metaxas demonstrated the collective angst all Germans of good faith had like Bonhoeffer over the growing Nazi menace after Hitler came to power in 1933:
    Young and hitherto wholly unknown medical trainees came, as representatives of the Party, to suggest to the heads of hospitals that they immediately dismiss the Jewish doctors. Some allowed themselves to be persuaded. Any suggestions that such matters came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry and not of the Party were met with threats. The Dean tried to persuade faculty members to join the Party collectively. His attempt was foiled by individual refusals. Nor did the Ministry at first make any move to meet the demand for the dismissal of Jewish assistants. But doctors in individual hospitals were constantly spied upon to discover their attitude towards the Party.
Doesn't that above-passage have a ring of familiarity within American culture and society in the Age of Obama (2009 – present), particularly the spying aspects and how Obama is hell bent on infusing a militant progressive worldview throughout America? Early in Hitler's rise to power it was the college students who were the most zealous Hitlerites, mindless fanatics whom an earlier fascist tyrant (Lenin) would call "useful idiots." It was young, German college students who gleefully organized and participated in book burnings in cities and towns across Germany. Compare these anti-intellectual dupes to today's youth who voted for Obama in numbers higher than almost every other demographic which is why Obama speaks on college campuses almost on a weekly basis. Think of the chaos caused by the so-called "99-Percenters" movement in New York where in Sept. 2011 when they shutdown parts of the city around Wall Street protesting free market capitalism while wearing and using all of the products of modern society from designer clothes, tents, toothpaste, soap, toilets, to cars, trucks, laptops, cell phones, iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, etc..., all inventions only made possible within a free market capitalist system.

Long before the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, anti-Semitism had occurred for decades amid German universities led by legions of impressionable, racist, fanatical students, but now they expressed it officially. That spring on May 10, 1933 the German Students Association organized a celebration called an "Action against the un-German Spirit" where thousands of students gathered in every university town across Germany. From Heidelberg to Tubingen to Freiburg to Gottingen, they marched in torchlight parades and were then stirred into frenzied passion as Nazi officials ranted and raved about the glories of what the courageous young men and women of Germany were engaged in. At midnight the whole thing thundered to ostentatious effect in a great Sauberung (cleansing) where massive bonfires were lit and into which the students threw thousands of books including those by such "un-German" authors" as Franz Werfel, Max Brod, Stefan Zweig, Helen Keller, Jack London, H.G. Wells, Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Heinrich Heine, Sigmund Freud, the latter who echoed Heine's warning of German fascism 100 years earlier – "Only our books? In earlier times they would have burned us with them."

In Berlin the torchlight procession conducted by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Reich Minister of Propaganda, began at the Hegelplatz behind Berlin University, to burn the "anti-German" books and as Goebbels stood before the smoldering mountain of books burning he ranted and raved to the thirty thousand enraged German students; his diabolical words echoed into the darkness: "German men and women! The age of arrogant Jewish intellectualism is now at an end! . . . You are doing the right thing at this midnight hour – to consign to the flames the unclean spirit of the past. This is a great, powerful, and symbolic act. . . . Out of these ashes the phoenix of a new age will arise. . . . O Century! O Science! It is a joy to be alive!"

Metaxas explained the intoxicating imagery behind Nazi book burning ceremonies: "As with so much else in the Third Reich, the scene had an undeniably macabre aspect to it: the midnight bonfire feeding like a succubus on the noble thoughts and words of great man and women. Goebbels, the propagandist, well knew that to stage a torchlight parade, followed by a bonfire and invoked the gods of the German Volk (people), who represented strength and in any sense; indeed it was very much meant to be anti-Christian, though it wouldn't do to say so, since most of those present might have balked to hear such a thing, though they well felt it. The torches and the drums and the procession were meant to create an atmosphere of ominousness and fortunes of the Christian faith, but stood in fundamental opposition to them and to the monotheistic religion of the despised Jews."

I quoted Heinrich Heine's famous words about the book burnings in the epigram above which today is inscribed at the Opernplatz as a memorial of this horrific ritual against freedom of ideas and thought. However, another passage from Heine's works is possibly more uncannily prophetic of what would take place in Germany 100 years later. They are the concluding words of this 1834 book, Religion and Philosophy in Germany.
    Christianity – and that is its greatest merit – has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered, the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. This talisman is fragile, and the day will come when it will collapse miserably. Then the ancient stony gods will rise from the forgotten debris and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and finally Thor with his giant hammer will jump up and smash the Gothic cathedrals. . . . Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. . . . [W]hen you hear a crashing such as never before has been heard in the world's history, then you know that the German thunderbolt has fallen at last. At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in the remotest deserts of Africa will hide in their royal dens. A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.
Heine was equally prescient to compare the French Revolution to what would be a future unknown German fascist regime, spewing nationalist and neo-paganism hatred that would rise up 100 years later – we know them now as Hitler and the Nazis. This tells me that history (including Hitler, the Nazis, the Holocaust, and book burnings) doesn't happen in a vacuum. For example, history has repeatedly demonstrated that it was the French Revolution (1789-99), which was the first totalitarian revolution, the genesis of modern totalitarianism and indeed the spiritual foundation for the Russian Communist, Italian Fascist and German Nazi revolutions which all are derivative from Leftist politics, a worldview based on humanism and evolution atheism.

Nazification was Hitler and the Nazis successful attempt to make all of Germany a Nazi State and every German citizen a Nazi by using proven tactics like Gleichschaltung (forcing into line) and Weltanschauung (Nazi worldview). Similarly under today's Progressive Revolution since the 1850s the Democrat Socialist Party has totally embraced Machiavelli's "the end justify the means," "Might makes right" or as Lord Acton wrote of Machiavelli, "State [and federal] power is not bound by moral law" which can only be achieved through the progressive lie: Separation of Church and State.

Book burnings then, Obamacare now, were simply dramatic means to achieve these socialist ends.

The picture in the caption above was perhaps written around 1943 and says that, "Ten years ago the Nazis burned these books... but in America we can still read them." Although this statement tried to distinguish America from Nazi Germany, it is only partially true today. Why? Because while in a de jure (legal) sense America today doesn't burn books? however, in a de facto (unofficial) sense through our book publishing industry, our literary agent industry, our media, our education system, our politics, our legal system and throughout culture and society, there exists an existential, de facto book burning Zeitgeist which happens on a much greater scale by the Democrat Socialist Party today which the Nationalist Socialist Party could only dream of achieving 80 years ago under Hitler and the Nazis. In modern times todays' Leftists creates this book burning atmosphere by deconstructing, perverting and destroying conservative ideas particularly those out of the Judeo-Christian tradition of intellectual thought... without lighting one match or igniting one torch. Hitler would be pleased!

Only in such an anti-God, anti-intellectual society as America has devolved into during the Age of Progressivism (1860 – present) and now in the Age of Obama (2009 – present) are Heine's prophetic words tantamount to those of Moses, Isaiah and St. Paul when he wrote, "Where books (ideas) are burned, they will, in the end burn people, too."

Book Notice

Please purchase my latest opus dedicated to that Conservative Colossus, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Here are the latest two new volumes from my ongoing historical series – THE PROGRESSIVE REVOLUTION: History of Liberal Fascism through the Ages (University Press of America, 2015):
However, before the book is officially released to the public, I have to place 100 pre-publication orders (50 orders per each volume). I need your help to make this happen ASAP. Please place your order today for Volume 3 & Volume 4. Of course, if you can order all 100 copies today, the book will become official tomorrow.

Please circulate this flyer to all your email contacts & Facebook/Twitter followers who may be interested in purchasing this opus which will serve as a ready apologetic against the rampant Marxist-Progressive propaganda taught in America's public schools, colleges, universities, graduate schools, and law schools. Thanks in advance to all my friends, associates and colleagues for your invaluable support! Law and History Blog: www.EllisWashingtonReport.com

Invitation for manuscripts

I am starting a new a program on my blog dedicated to giving young conservatives (ages 14-35) a regular place to display and publish their ideas called Socrates Corner. If you know of any young person who wants to publish their ideas on any subject, have them send their essay manuscripts to my email at ewashington@wnd.com.

© Ellis Washington


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Ellis Washington

Ellis Washington is a former staff editor of the Michigan Law Review (1989) and law clerk at the Rutherford Institute (1992). Currently he is an adjunct professor of law at the National Paralegal College and the graduate school, National Jurisprudence University, where he teaches Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, American History, Administrative Law, Criminal Procedure, Contracts, Real Property, and Advanced Legal Writing, among many other subjects... (more)


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