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Book burning on Opernplatz in Berlin (including an appearance by Josef Goebbels). On 10 May 1933 "undeutsches Schrifttum" (Un-German literature) was being burned in many German university towns. These macabre events were the highlight of the campaign "Wider den undeutschen Geist" (Against the Un-German Spirit) after the National Socialists' coming to power. The book burnings had been arranged by the German Student Association's Main Office for Press and Propaganda. 

10 May 1933
Burning the Books

Berlin May 10th 1933

The book opens one last time.
Pages darken in the light, to shrink
revealing the next. Beneath are many more
waiting their turn, as when they were read
in order. Of course, each has a number.
I watch from the margins when for a moment
tentative tongues playfully flicker
before contortion and final combustion.

After such a conflagration I had thought
the story finished. But there was left
a new formed negative with ghostly words
extra black on an ashen background.
Later, rain dispersed the saluting crowd,
all heat departed and an illiterate wind
perused and turned those pages, scattering
them far and wide across the Opernplatz.

 

© Richard Westcott

Picture 10246084, photograph

After hanging up his stethoscope a few years back, Richard Westcott now listens to himself talking, rather than others. Presently working on a sequence exploring Suicide, he seems to be better at getting a commendation here and there than being published, but keeps trying. And stays alive.