are some behind-the-scene personal experiences from the 1930's that
might be of interest.
1933, our Nazi government appealed to us for a nationwide "non-Aryan"
boycott. I experienced the proposed boycott the hard way.
One day I went to the local haberdashery I had been frequenting
for years, a Jewish firm with the name of Lapp. As I approached
I saw one of the new eye catching anti-Jewish pamphlets in the window:
"Germans defend yourself! Buy only at Aryan stores."
An SA-man (a uniformed brown storm trooper) was planted in front
with his feet wide apart, partly blocking the entrance, & I
had to squeeze past him on my way inside, like many others did.
When I came out with my purchase he gave me a dirty look & grunted,
"Can't you read?" On my next visit to Lapp's store I found
the SA guard posted there in a more menacing posture. This
time he filled the entire doorway & gave me a very rude &
sharp-tongued warning never to dare to set foot in this store again
before it was "Aryanized." I was shocked & had to turn
away empty-handed. After that episode, my parents warned me
to stay out of any dangerous Nazi crossfire.
did you know what happened at the famous book burning? There
was an order to get rid of all "un-German" writings. The list
of outlawed books included authors such as Heinrich Heine, Thomas
Mann, Sigmund Freud & even Albert Einstein. We were supposed
to participate in a "patriotic" meeting at the biggest square in
Muenster. Looking at the surroundings, we immediately knew
that this patriotic meeting was nothing more than a mass book-burning
rally. All day long the "un-German" books had been hauled
in trucks & wagons by Party functionairies & piled up in
the center of the square. My entire class was required to
show up in the afternoon, & as usual, the teacher's attendance
list had to be handed in the following day to a supervisor.
The entire proceeding was led by Nazi officials who screamed endless
propaganda at us. (However, we girls did not pay much attention
to them because across from us were the boys from the Schiller High
School. THEY got all of our attention!)
books were supposed to burn in a glorious bonfire. Various
efforts were made, but the "un-German" literature wouldn't cooperate.
We thought the whole fiasco was hilarious & started to giggle.
This got us reprimands from our teacher who urged us to put on serious
faces. Obviously he understood more about our dangerous behavior
than we did. They finally poured gasoline over the books.
The fuel burned brilliantly, throwing ghostly shadows in the twilight,
but the books resisted being consumed, & only left behind an
acrid smell. When I got home that evening, I heard on the
radio that 20,000 books were burned in Berlin alone. It was
a cultural & political fiasco in all of Germany.
let me leave you with a little bit of humor.
book burning really shocked us & it was only a prelude to what
would follow. The way the public really felt was unmistakably
demonstrated by the new political jokes that sprang up, such as
housewife goes to the public library. "I would like to check
out some books for my husband. He is at home, sick in bed."
"Well," says the librarian, "May I suggest something from the
very new, highly interesting literature recommended by our present
government? "No, thank you," says the housewife. "My
husband isn't THAT sick!"
hope there are other people out there who can share THEIR experiences
of this time period. I realize that my generation is dying
out, but I plan to stick around for a while longer!