Anti-Intelligence and Burning Books
During class this week, we spoke of the Nazi belief that the blood that pulsed through a person’s body mattered more than their intelligence. As we have learned, the Nazi’s were anti-intellectual. In Spielvogel, when speaking of intellects, Hitler is quoted as saying, “Unfortunately, one needs them. Otherwise, one might-I don’t know- wipe them out or something. But, unfortunately one needs them” (1). Spielvogel goes onto report one of many epithets that the Nazi’s used, “We think with our blood.” While standing alone, without context, this statement may seem slightly innocuous. It may even sound like a comment someone may roll their eyes at today, essentially not taken seriously. However, within the context of Nazi Germany this one statement, “we think with our blood,” is so incredibly telling of the deep seeded racism that engulfed the Nazi’s. Because, as we know, Aryan blood was the purest there was, according to Hitler. This led to the thinking that Germans would be successful simply because they were German, not because of their intelligence.
This brings us to book burnings. To even think of throwing a book into a fire makes my heart hurt and body cringe. However, as we spoke about in class, the vast majority of people do not truly enjoy reading, thus would not have had the same reaction to burning books written by intellectuals during the Nazi’s rule. Although we have learned how deep the Nazi’s way of thinking had been ingrained in all German ways of life via strong propaganda and rule, I was still shocked when I read in Spielvogel that book burnings were “organized by German student groups” (1). When trying to absorb this, I reflected back to a previous class when we discussed how highly educated people fell for the Nazi rhetoric. People wanted to belong. They wanted to be part of something greater than themselves. To them, this included burning books written by scholars that preached a different ideology than the one they currently followed. There are so many levels of propaganda and rhetoric that Nazis used to obtain total control, but I believe that their ability to filtrate school systems and control the type of books Germans had was one of their greatest.
- Jackson Spielvogel and David Reedles. Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History.7th Ed. Boston: Pearson 2014. 151, 152.