"We recall today with shame that 75 years ago - not just here in Berlin, but in all of Germany - tens of thousands applauded and cheered as the books of Erich Kaestner, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Kurt Tucholsky and many others were thrown into the fire by the Nazis" said today the German President, Horst Koehler, in a speech at Berlin's Academy of Arts.
The so-called "degenerate" books, were burning on May, 10,1933, under Hitler's dictatorship. It started from the capital of the third Reich, Berlin, with 20,000 books and went on in other German cities; the ordered was called (Säuberung) or "cleansing". The Nazis burnt books with "non-German" ideas. Books written by Freud, Einstein, Thomas Mann, Jack London, H.G. Wells and many others go up in flames as they give the Nazi salute.
The target of this historically symbolic action was the suppression of free thoughts and ideas. The action was a tactic of Joseph Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda with the target of brainwashing a whole nation. The works of leading German writers such as Berthold Brecht, Lion Feuchtwanger, Alfred Kerr were consigned to flames. The promotion of "Aryan" culture and the suppression of other forms of artistic production was yet another Nazi effort to "purify" Germany.
The Nazis were neither the first nor the last book-burners in history. Christianity has a longer history of defending an all-powerful deity by shielding the mind from strange ideas.
The 'Dark Ages' of the Middle Ages in Europe is full of religious atrocity , many scientists were burnt with their ideas and books: John Calvin was probably the most efficient: in 1600, when he burned Michael Servetus at the stake for heresy, and around his waist were tied a large bundle of manuscript and a thick octavo printed book. Another notorious illustration of this was in July of 1562, when Bishop Diego de Landa burnet five thousand idols and many thousands of their written works.
Scientific inquiry had virtually no support in Western society from the 7th to 15th centuries. Bigoted Ecclesiasticism dammed the flow of free thought, blocking the seepage of knowledge within Western societies. Book was branded as magic and treasonous, and the writer or reader was punishable by torture or death. Bruno was burned at the stake for the crime of claiming that the earth rotates about its axis.
Several decades after the event of Islam in Arabia, Muslim invaders of Arabia galloped in new territories. they brutally destroyed great civilisations of the Middle East. Among other losses, libraries as the symbol of knowledge and wisdom of their culture were burnt to ashes. This early book-burning of primitive Muslims paved the way for 1400 years of darkness and backwardness in the Middle East.
Muslim invaders arrived with sword in one hand and the Koran in the other. Since they believed the Koran was a divine revelation, it became the starting point. The Koran instructed them to seek knowledge in all fields. It was in this perspective and under the shadow of Islamic influences, Muslim scientists, philosophers, poets wrote their works. Even worse than the censorship, their works were influenced by their own self-alienation.
Centuries later, Muslim scientists upheld the civilisation in the world when the West was in its lowest era of moral and intellectual obscurity. However, the Islamic civilisation appeared in a limited framework of progress due to its own religiosity too.
Today, the heritage of the Nazi's and early Muslims' book burning became the political Islam with its shoking results in the last three decades in the Islamic world, especially in Iran and Afghanistan.
Recalling not only the book-burning of 1933 by the Nazis, but also the early invasion of Islam in Iran, the regime launched in 1980 a cultural revolution to alienate Iranians from their pre-Islamic great civilisation by islamoarbising the whole Iranian culture. Following the Cultural Revolution, bands of Hezbollah and Islamists attacked, destroyed and burnt libraries in Iran. Millions of books were destroyed, and thousands of allegedly readers of such books were imprisoned or executed.
Not only the IRI's Ministry of Culture now censors some of Iran's best contemporary writers and researchers, such as Sadegh Hedayat, Sadegh Choobak, Ebrahim Golestan, Gholamhossein Saaedi, Ahmad Kasravi, Ali Dashti, Ebrahim Poordavoud, Zabih Behrouz, and others, but even in the recent years, they removed parts and whole pieces of works by well-known poets such as Souzani Samarghandi, Omar Khayam, Molana Jalaledin Rumi, Nezami Ganjavi, Abid Zakani, Iradj Mirza, and even some lexicons from Ali Akbar Dehkhoda and Farhang Moeen as non-Islamic.
Contrary to the Nazis in 1933, today, IRI's book burning and censorship are not so solely aimed at stamping out ideas of freedom but for a more nefarious purpose and in a line with the early Muslim invaders: suppressing our ancient culture.
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