Fotoeins Friday: Heine’s warning about book burning (Frankfurt)
Most visitors to Frankfurt am Main will stop at the historic Römerberg square for pictures of the surrounding buildings with bank towers in the background. But a glance down onto the cobblestones near the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Fountain of Justice) reveals a writer’s stern warning. In the tragedy “Almansor“, the German-Jewish writer Heinrich Heine warned readers about the dangers of burning books:
Das war ein Vorspiel nur. Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.
– Heinrich Heine, “Almansor” (1820-1821)
Heine wrote how burning books is a dangerous omen: “where books are burned, people aren’t far behind.” A little over 100 years later, this prescient line played out as the Nazis took over and targeted in particular Jews. On 10 May 1933 in Frankfurt and in other cities across the country in plans orchestrated by the Propaganda Ministry, tens of thousands including university students loyal to the Nazis gathered to burn books by writers who were Jewish or who were deemed ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘un-German’ to the Nazi ideal. Books by Bertolt Brecht, Sigmund Freud, Heinrich Heine, Erich Kästner, and Heinrich Mann among others were thrown into the fire. The Gedenkplatte (or Gedenktafel) Bücherverbrennung is a memorial and modern reminder for constant vigilance against the dangerous reasons for book burning and the consequences beyond.
I made the photos above on 9 May 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-79O.
5 Responses to “Fotoeins Friday: Heine’s warning about book burning (Frankfurt)”
Back in my days as a bookseller, I would travel to Frankfurt to The Internationale Buchmesse, but I never went to this spot, thanks for sharing
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In truth, Cornelia, I was hanging out at Römerberg on a sunny afternoon, and I decided to photograph people at the “platz.” As I walked around to get a better angle for the light, I happened to look down and saw the “denkmal.” For me, it’s good for me to pay attention, head up and head down! 🙂
what a beautiful square! and a serous warning!
Hi, Tanja. I really like Frankfurt’s Römerberg, too, but most people aren’t looking down at the cobblestones at this square. That’s why the plaque to Heine’s warning is all the more important. Thanks for reading and for your comment!
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[…] About 200 metres to the northeast of Bebelplatz is a memorial sculpture to German writer and thinker Heinrich Heine whose quote from his 1820 play, “Almansor”, appears above. I wrote about a similar memorial to Heine at Römerberg in Frankfurt am Main. […]