Traveling Nazi book-burning exhibit arrives in West Fargo
WEST FARGO - A traveling exhibit that links 1930s Nazi Germany book burnings with the killing of 6 million German-Jews during the 1939-45 Holocaust has arrived in West Fargo.
“Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings” was opened to local media Tuesday at Bonanzaville.
The exhibit dates back 80 years, or six years prior to World War II, when German students burned thousands of books, targeting authors ranging from Helen Keller and Ernest Hemingway to Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.
Their actions underscored an earlier warning from 19th-century German-Jewish writer Heinrich Heine: “Where one burns books, one soon burns people.”
The Nazi book burnings provoked reaction from writers, artists, scholars, journalists, librarians, labor unions, clergy, political figures and others.
The American Jewish Congress organized massive street demonstrations to protest Nazi persecution of Jews.
“This exhibit does a remarkable job to remind us of what happens when our rights to express ideas are suppressed,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
This marks the first time that the exhibit has been displayed in the Midwest.
“It’s a tremendous teaching opportunity,” said Hunegs, who was viewing it for his first time Tuesday.
“It’s attractive, easy to read, well written, with fascinating pieces of history,” he said.Fargo businessman Rick Stern’s family lost several relatives who died in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
“This shows how this all starts. It is important that we keep this fresh in our memories,” Stern said after viewing the display.
“It’s thought provoking,” said Sandra Hannahs, director of the West Fargo Public Library.
“It’s something that really expresses the importance of freedom of speech and the freedom to share and express viewpoints whether you believe them or not,” she said.
Librarians tend to view the freedom to share information as the foundation of democracy, Hannahs said.
The exhibit officially opens Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Lucien C. Barnes Building-Rotating Exhibition Gallery and remains on display through Aug. 17.
“It’s a great exhibit,” said Kathleen Toft, secretary of the Bonanzaville board of directors.
“We were afraid that we weren’t going to be able to have this because of lack of funding,” she said.
Within a few days, several individuals contributed the money needed to bring the display to West Fargo, she said.
If You Go
WHAT: “Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings”
WHEN: The exhibit officially opens Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Lucien C. Barnes Building-Rotating Exhibition Gallery and is free that day. It remains on display through Aug. 17. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
WHERE: Bonanzaville, 1351 West Main, West Fargo
INFO: Admission to the museum and exhibition is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (55-plus) and military, $6 for ages 4 to 14.