A chilling article in Tuesday's The Times, a review of a book about the infamous burning of the books under Hitler in 1933, good writers and bad, Jewish and gentile, men of the left and of the right. And all, complained Stefan Zweig, without writers protestsing. Volker Weidermann, the young journalist who has written Das Buch der verbranntem Bücher (The Book of the Burning Books), has read many of the banned list, and found some real gems - but lost for a generation, or for two, or for ever.
George Smiley was undercover in Germany in this period and saw the burning of the books, and rejoiced that he knew his enemy. Mann was among many who faced a new humiliation:
And for those who did survive till 1945, there was one last, bitter pill to swallow: “Many of the famous authors returning to Germany after the war were devastated to find that there was no audience for them,” Weidermann says. “The public that had burnt their books in 1933 still didn't want them! That was utterly humiliating for someone like Thomas Mann, who thought that there was a ‘better Germany' that would welcome him back.”
This is only just published in German, but I hope it is translated soon: it contains a lesson we cannot forget, a lesson which will bear endless retelling.