Book Day in Germany Date in the current year: May 10, 2024

Book Day in Germany Book Day (Tag des Buches), also known as Free Book Day (Tag des freien Buches), is a German observance held on May 10 every year. It is another somber reminder of the Nazi regime’s monstrosities.

Soon after the Nazi Party’s ascension to power in 1933, the German Student Union initiated a campaign to ceremonially burn books deemed “un-German” according to the new ideology. These included books written by Jewish, religious, pacifist, communist, socialist, anarchist, and classical liberal authors.

Book burnings were held in Nazi Germany and Austria between March and October 1933. The most large-scale burning took place on May 10, 1933 in many German university cities, including Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt am Main, and Bonn. That night, nationalist students burned about 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books. Among the German-speaking authors whose books were burnt were Bertolt Brecht, Albert Einstein, Friedrich Engels, Lion Feuchtwanger, Sigmund Freud, Heinrich Heine, Franz Kafka, Erich Kästner, Rosa Luxembourg, Heinrich Mann, Karl Marx, Anna Seghers, Stefan Zweig, and many others.

May 10 was first observed as Book Day in 1947, two years after the fall of the Nazi regime. The observance was inaugurated to remind about the inadmissibility of censorship. Following the final division of Germany, it was celebrated in East Germany as Free Book Day. In West Germany, the observance was reinstated in 1987 at the insistence of the Society of German Booksellers.

The main goal of Book Day in Germany is to remind people about the terrible events of the 1930s to prevent them from recurring in the future. In Berlin, there’s even a memorial to the Nazi book burnings located at the Bebelplatz, where the May 10 book burning took place. Designed by Micha Ullman, it consists of a glass plate set into the cobbles, giving a view of empty bookcases large enough to hold all the burnt books.

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Book Day in Germany, Free Book Day, holidays in Germany, cultural observances, Nazi book burnings in Germany