Heinrich Hein’s article on book burning touched on the theory that burning books and people were used to get rid of “threatening” messages-the Nazi’s did so in their holocaust/house raids as pointed out by Hein, Nazi’s burned books about Jewish views and tradition, and anything that could be seen as threatening to they’re power over the people. In Fahrenheit 451, the same theory behind the book burning is utilized-it is used as a tool of censorship… the firefighters torch houses (and the occasional person-oops!) because they are keeping information seen by the people “socially above them” as something threatening to their position. “Burning books and burning people are connected because both stem from a desire to eliminate ideas that are a threat to the same group or ideology which is in power.” which means that when a book is burned – a person is burned; a persons mind, idea, escape, world… they are all burned alongside with said book. Nazi Germany also understood that burning books would not fully burn the message, the only way to burn said message was to burn the origin. This is where the ideas of burning the Jews, communists and other minorities came from, the acceptance of burning books opened the door to burning people during such a dark time in history.
It’s important to understand that book burning became a widespread phenomenon during the holocaust because it developed into the social norm within Nazi Germany; the goal was to snuff out any minority or threatening content… this is shown in Fahrenheit 451 in the beginning when Montag thinks of fire as calming, kerosine as perfume, and the idea/image of burning of books as freeing.
It’s a journey to find out how Montag transitions to the opposition when it comes to book burning and it makes you wonder exactly how the situation of the holocaust could have been different if such things happened to more people involved with the extermination of books and minorities.
– Hannah DeBourke