Quotations about   book burning

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I am inordinately proud these days of the quill, for it has shown itself, historically, to be the hypodermic which inoculates men and keeps the germ of freedom always in circulation, so that there are individuals in every time in every land who are the carriers, the Typhoid Mary’s, capable of infecting others by mere contact and example. These persons are feared by every tyrant — who shows his fear by burning the books and destroying the individuals.

E.B. White (1899-1985) American author, critic, humorist [Elwyn Brooks White]
“Freedom” (Jul 1940)
Added on 25-Feb-16 | Last updated 5-Jul-16
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Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the ideas that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny of every kind. In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
“Message to American Booksellers Association” (23 Apr 1942)
Added on 18-Feb-16 | Last updated 18-Feb-16
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If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.

Umar I (c. 583-644) Arab caliph, jurist [Omar, Umar ibn Al-Khattāb, Al-Farooq]
(Attributed)

Ordering the burning of the Library of Alexandria in AD 641, as quoted in Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88). The story is generally considered spurious. More discussion here.Alt. trans.: "They will either contradict the Koran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous"
Added on 11-Feb-16 | Last updated 11-Feb-16
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It was a great relief to be in a country where salacious sex literature cannot be sold; where putrid motion pictures and gangster films cannot be shown. The new Germany has burned great masses of corrupting books and magazines along with its bonfires of Jewish and communistic libraries.

Other Authors and Sources
John W. Bradbury, National Baptist Watchman-Examiner (13 Sep 1934)

On being a delegate to the Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin.
Added on 4-Feb-16 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the index expurgatorius, the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the guillotine.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to John Taylor (15 Apr 1814)
Added on 28-Jan-16 | Last updated 28-Jan-16
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The crime of book purging is that it involves a rejection of the word. For the word is never absolute truth, but only man’s frail and human effort to approach the truth. To reject the word is to reject the human search.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
“The Vigilantes and the Chain of Fear,” New York Post (24 Jun 1953)

Regarding the McCarthy era book burnings. Reprinted in The Unfinished Country, pt. 4 (1959).
Added on 10-Mar-15 | Last updated 10-Mar-15
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Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.

Alfred Whitney Griswold (1906–1963) American historian, educator
“A Little Learning,” address to students, Phillips Academy, Andover (Spring 1952)

Reprinted in The Atlantic Monthly (Nov 1952)
Added on 8-Feb-08 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as that document does not offend your own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Commencement Speech, Dartmouth College (14 Jun 1953)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Jul-15
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Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.

[Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.]

Heine - burn human beings - wist_info quote

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) German poet and critic
Almansor: A Tragedy, l. 245 (1823)

Alt trans:
  • "Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people."
  • "Where they burn books, they will also burn people."
  • "It is there, where they burn books, that eventually they burn people."
  • "Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings."
  • "Where they burn books, they also burn people."
  • "Them that begin by burning books, end by burning men."
  • "Wherever books are burned, sooner or later men are also burned."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
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