Bambi and the Theory of Relativity

Books on the Nazi Pyre

Albert Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory and Bambi by Felix Salten were among the books by over 350 authors burned on the Nazi pyre. On 10 May 1933, the Deutsche Studentenschaft (German Student Union) burned books as the climax of a large-scale “Action against the Un-German Spirit.” Works by Anna Seghers, Lion Feuchtwanger, Vicki Baum, Erich Kästner, Alfred Kerr, and Erich Maria Remarque were thrown on the bonfire along with academic literature and political journalism. Works by Jewish, Marxist, and pacifist authors were deemed “harmful and undesirable writings.”

Past exhibition

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The Libeskind building is marked in green


Libeskind Building, lower level
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

The fires destroyed an enormous amount. In emigrants’ private libraries, however, these treasures remained intact. Today, they continue to be the subject of spectacular library purchases.

George Warburg

The American George Warburg, who grew up in Germany before leaving Berlin with his parents when it was still possible, began to collect these volumes twenty-five years ago. He has generously donated his collection of over 400 books, mostly first editions, to the Jewish Museum Berlin. This donation was sparked by the museum’s 2012 New Year greeting card illustrated with the painting Unpacking My Library by R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007), which was exhibited at our museum in the retrospective R.B. Kitaj: Obsessions. Warburg took this as an sign and contacted director W. Michael Blumenthal to inquire about the museum’s interest in his collection. Details were discussed at a meeting in New York.

Painting of a gray haired man hunched over while grabbing his chest, he is holding a red book in his left hand and is surrounded by cardboard boxes

R. B. Kitaj, Unpacking my Library, 1990/91, oil on canvas, 122 x 122 cm; Collection of Joseph Kitaj

Interview with George Warburg from 2013; Jewish Museum Berlin

George Warburg Collection

The George Warburg Collection is representative of the banned literature of the Nazi era, which was systematically destroyed after 1933. This small cabinet exhibition, put on for the eightieth anniversary of the book burning, presented a selection of the George Warburg Collection. It was a contribution to the Berlin-wide “Diversity Destroyed: 1933–1938” theme year, alongside the Jewish Museum Berlin’s online project 1933: The Beginning of the End of German Jewry and the exhibition Tonalities: Jewish Women Ceramicists from Germany after 1933.


George Warburg-Sammlung verbrannter und verbotener Bücher by Werner Treß and Es begann mit Kafka by George Warburg, from: JMB-Journal Nr. 8 (in German)

Download (PDF / 107.39 KB / in German)

Berlin Theme Year 2013

About the project „Berliner Themenjahr 2013“ (in German)

As a part of the Berlin Theme Year 2013, a list of works banned under National Socialism was published on the Berliner Hauptstadtportal website (in German):

List of books on the Hauptstadtportal website

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    7 May to 15 Sep 2013

  • Where

    Libeskind Building, lower level
    Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map

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