Memorial The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste, 2021 | © NS-Dokumentationszentrum München, Photo: Connolly Weber Photography


The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste

Memorial to the book-burnings on Königsplatz 1933

On Thursday, May 6, 2021, the artwork The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste by Arnold Dreyblatt commemorating the book-burnings of 1933 was inaugurated on the central area of gravel in front of the Staatliche Antikensammlungen—the antiquities museum—on Munich’s Königsplatz. Owing to the pandemic, the inauguration was not a public event. Bavari-an Prime Minister Markus Söder, Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter, President of the Jewish Community Charlotte Knobloch, Director of Culture for the City of Munich Anton Biebl, and Director of the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism Mirjam Zadoff attended the inauguration of the memorial together with the artist Arnold Dreyblatt.

The book-burnings in May 1933 were initiated by the antisemitic German Student Union. What was termed a “campaign against the un-German spirit” took place in many German cities and formed a prelude to the systematic removal of any literature that the Nazis disapproved of from libraries, bookshops, and the literary industry. In Munich there were two book-burnings on Königsplatz, on May 6 and May 10.

The Munich City council took the decision to commemorate the Nazi book-burnings in public space in 2016. Arnold Dreyblatt’s work was the winning entry in an international competition. The title of the artwork The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste refers to the blacklists of undesirable literature compiled by the Berlin librarian Wolfgang Herrmann in spring 1933, which served as a guideline for the organizers of the book-burnings. The walkable circular artwork consists of a spiral of book titles by 310 authors disparaged and ostracized by the Nazi regime and its supporters. The memorial encourages a confrontation with Nazi ideology and at the same time arouses an interest in this proscribed cultural heritage itself.

“This memorial sends the right signal at the right place and the right time, for today especially we are witnessing once again how hatred and agitation are being used to facilitate anti-Semitism, intolerance, racism, and contempt for humanity.  First, a spark is kindled, then attempts are made to fan the flames. Let us have the courage to stand up for our values, for democracy and freedom— free-dom of speech, artistic freedom, and freedom of opinion— and against antisemitism and racism!”

Prime Minister Markus Söder

“It has taken a long time for the Nazi book-burnings to find a place in the remembrance culture of the Federal Republic of Germany. Munich, too, had difficulty getting to this point.  On May 10 every year since 1995, the action artist Wolfram Kastner has launched a temporary appeal not to forget the past with his readings from the burned books and with his so-called scorch mark on Königsplatz. The city supports this powerful intervention. The ground memorial The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste by Arnold Dreyblatt, showing the titles of books by authors ostracized by the Nazis, continues this tradition, permanently identifying Königsplatz in public space as the place where the book-burnings took place in 1933 . We thus acknowledge the fact that Königsplatz was a place that was highly charged with Nazi propaganda.”

Mayor Dieter Reiter

“Königsplatz is one of the central remem-brance sites of the Nazi era in Munich, and it is highly gratifying that this remembrance has become increasingly visible in recent years. Especially today, it is right and necessary that the book-burnings of 1933, which are inseparably connected with this location, should likewise have been made so clearly visible. The traces of the past must be legible and identifiable for everyone, for without knowing about the past we cannot shape the present.”

President Charlotte Knobloch

“With Arnold Dreyblatt’s The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste we close a gap in Munich’s culture of remembrance. The memorial permanently marks this historic place in the art district. It focuses not only on the burning of works by ostracized authors but also on that which remains and which points to the future: the power of literature. A continuous spiral of book titles forms the core of the memorial. Let The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste forever remind us that the treatment of art and artists is a yardstick for the state of democracy in a society.”

Cultural Officer Anton Biebl

The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste commemorates 310 book titles that in the years before 1933 could be found in bookshops, on coffee tables, and on living room bookshelves—books that represented the diverse and pluralistic character of the first German democracy. They are the writings of women’s rights advocates, social democrats, communists, anarchists, sexologists, educationalists, and romanciers – many of whom were Jews. This diversity was forcibly removed from public collections in 1933 with the aim of presenting a false picture of a homogenous “German people,” a society of discrimination and exclusion. The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste reminds us of this anew every day. It took a long time for this diversity to reemerge in German society. Now our duty is to protect and strengthen it, so that minorities in Germany can raise their voices without fear as members of a diverse society.”

Mirjam Zadoff

“In my work The Blacklist / Die Schwarze Liste I concen-trated on using text markers in order, through a recitation of the traces of a lost world, to conjure up the active destruction of knowledge and culture. Written without punctuation, this continuous text, comprising 310 revealing book titles by banned authors, forms a poetic window on the political, economic, scientific, and literary topics of that time. The close sequence of text fragments running into one another yields new meanings for the present in a spiral composition that also reminds us of the curling spiral of rising smoke that one sees on historical photographs of the 1933 book-burnings.”

Arnold Dreyblatt