Darrow Miller and Friends

Book Burning: Nazi Version of Safe Spaces

  1. Book Burning: Nazi Version of Safe Spaces
  2. Nazis, 20th Century Postmoderns
  3. The Power of Ideas for Good or Bad

On May 10, 1933, in the Unter den Linden square near the University of Berlin, 40,000 cheering Germans celebrated the burning of 20,000 books in a huge bonfire. This was the first book burning in what would become a ritual throughout Germany.

Nazi book burning became common in the 1930sThe books were deemed to be outside the bounds of the culture of the new Germany. In Nietzsche and the Nazis, Stephen Hicks writes about The Reich Chamber of Culture, an institution that “controlled seven cultural spheres: fine arts, music, theater, literature, the press, radio, and films.”[1] The books thrown to the flames were the product of free thinkers, prominent Jewish and other authors considered subversive by the Reich.

Joseph Goebbels was one of the most powerful men in the new Nazi government. About him, Hicks writes,

Goebbel celebrated book burningJoseph Goebbels, Germany’s new  propaganda chief, put it this way: Any book or work of art “which acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home and the driving forces of our people” should be destroyed.[2]

Hicks goes on to say that it was not the government that incited the book burning, but the students themselves.

An important and sometimes overlooked fact about the book burnings is that they were not instigated by the Nazi government. Nor were they instigated by non-intellectual thugs. The book burnings were instigated by university students. The Nazi Party’s student organization conceived and carried out book burnings all across the country—book bonfires burned brightly that night in every German university city. The professors had taught their students well.[3]

“Safe spaces” forbid free thinking in much the same way book burning did

Nazi fascism of a century ago produced book burning and silencing of the arts and political speech that was offensive to the sensibilities of the Third Reich. Today’s postmodern fascists silence politically incorrect speech through government suppression in Europe and “Safe Spaces” on American university campuses.

Increasingly, safe spaces are defining university life. Postmodern campuses are protecting students from speech they might consider offensive, a clear parallel to Nazi book burning. Safe spaces forbid critical thought, reason, and free thinking. The purpose of these spaces is not the pursuit of truth, but the pursuit of feeling good. Some universities provide a “hat tip” to free speech by creating one place on campus where free speech is permitted.

Christians need to be free thinkers and promote free speech. Let’s not make the same mistake in the postmodern world as too many Christians made in Nazi Germany.

  • Darrow Miller



[1] Hicks, Stephen R.C. . Nietzsche and the Nazis (Kindle Locations 638-639). Ockham’s Razor. Kindle Edition.

[2] Hicks, Stephen R.C. . Nietzsche and the Nazis (Kindle Locations 626-629). Ockham’s Razor. Kindle Edition.

[3] Hicks, Stephen R.C. . Nietzsche and the Nazis (Kindle Locations 630-637). Ockham’s Razor. Kindle Edition.

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).