Heinrich Heine on Burning Books

In the article Heinrich Heine on Burning Books the Nazi method of burning books in order to get rid of “threatening” messages during World War II.  This topic relates to the novel Fahrenheit 451, as, similarly, in this novel the burning of books is used as a method of censorship to eliminate ideas in books that could cause more complicated thoughts. I found this article fascinating because although I have learned about Word War II before, I was never aware of the burning of books in the holocaust.  The connection of burning books to the novels allows us to look at the novel in a new way within its historical context.


In the article, it is stated that “Burning books and burning people are connected because both stem from a desire to eliminate ideas that are a threat to the some group or ideology which is in power.” Suggesting that when a book is burned, a person is burned, that persons mind and ideas are burned alongside with the book. Montag actually has a similar thought at one point in the novel when he thinks about the fact that “It took some man a lifetime maybe to put some of his thoughts down… and then I came along in two minutes and boom! It’s all over.” This is one of Montags first realizations that a man (or woman) is behind every book.  This is where I see a connection between the novel and this article.


I think that it is interesting that Heinrich Heine predicted, 100 years before the holocaust about the burning of books. He was correct about his prediction, unfortunately. Fahrenheit 451 was written in the 1950s, shortly after the holocaust when the burning of books took place. Bradbury writes about a futuristic society where book burning is normal. Perhaps, similarly to Heine he was making a prediction that “those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.”  Bradbury used similar events to the holocaust in his novel to convey his criticism of society in the 1950s.


This article relates to the novel Fahrenheit 451 in ways that I was unaware of. To learn that the burning of books as a form of censorship was used in real life, not only in fiction was very interesting. They relate in the idea of burning books is like burning ideas and that Bradbury is almost making a prediction about the future similar to Heinrich Heine did. Relating this novel to the events in the holocaust provides a better understanding of the novels historical context. 

By: Emma


One thought on “Heinrich Heine on Burning Books

  1. I never realized that Heinrich Heine predicted 100 years before the holocaust about the burning of books! I like how you brought up the quote: “those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.” It was very fitting and thought provoking! This article and the events of the holocaust really presents a better understanding of the historical context. I think this does effect the reading of the novel as well as our understanding. Thanks for the well written and explained reflection:))
    -Hannah Brennan

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