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."
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.
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.
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.