Following the end of democracy in Germany and the establishment of a one-party dictatorship under Hitler, the Nazis orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign to win the loyalty and cooperation of Germans. The Nazi Propaganda Ministry, directed by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, took control of all forms of communication in Germany. These forms included newspapers, magazines, books, art, music, movies and radio. Viewpoints which in any way threatened Nazi beliefs were censored or eliminated. In an effort to conform German arts and culture in line with Nazi goals Nazi student organizations, professors and librarians made up a long list of books they thought should not be read by Germans. Then, on the night of May 10th 1933 approximately 25000 “un-German” books were burned. Goebbels shouted in his address “No to decadence and moral corruption! Yes to decency and morality in family and state.” This supression/censorship of culture and artistic production was yet another Nazi effort to purify Germany.
In the novel Fahrenheit 451 this theme of censorship is played out throughout the book. The main character Guy Montag is a fireman who does not extinguish fires but in fact, starts them through book burning. As in Nazi Germany book burning has a long and dark history and represents censorship orginating from cultural, religious, or political opposition. It represents a literary purging or clensing to provide a sense of conformity. However, Guy Montag comes to discover through his experiences in his interactions with other characters that books are valuable in your knowledge and your outlook on life. He begins to hide books and read them. He visits a retired English professor, Faber in an effort to learn how to interpret what he reads. It is Faber who tells Montag that he not only should read books but have the freedom to act upon their ideas. They create a scheme to begin reprinting books and place them in the homes of fireman to discredit their profession. While the censorship in the book revolves around the destruction of knowledge and the creation of ignorance Montag comes to question this belief and seeks knowledge in the books he hides.