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Posted Sunday, August 26, 2007

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Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.

Gerhard Rohringer describes, Sunday, August 26, 2007, witnessing bookburning at first hand in post-war Austria

They burned the books in Austria in 1946. . .

I HAVE read your report regarding the treatment you are suffering at the hands of German publishers and lawyers. This made me think of your recent imprisonment in Austria and of the collection and burning of your books found in the prison libraries of this friendly country.

With that my own memories of Austrian library purification came to mind. It was in the spring of 1946 and I was a student in the 5th class of the Realgymnasium in the Khevenhüllerstrasse, Linz, Austria. Our German teacher, Prof. Grinninger, asked for two volunteers to help in the school's library after school hours.

I offered my help and after school he took me and one other student to the school's library and instructed us to search the shelves for German text books. They were, as he explained, to be destroyed.

This disturbed me, a boy of just 14 years of age. For one, I knew that these books contained almost exclusively texts of 19th century authors, mostly short stories and poems and absolutely no Nazi literature. I also knew from experience that no books could be printed or were sold at that time, because of the post-war shortage of materials.

In fact we had no texts of any kind. So it was natural that I asked for a copy of these, soon to be destroyed books for my own use. He regretfully said he could not do that, but gave me a copy of a Latin dictionary known as the "Stowasser". This book was a great treasure in those days and without it, I am afraid, I would never have made it through the grueling last four years of Latin instruction.

This lessson, learned in school under proper supervision, taught me at an early age, that democracy does not hesitate to protect itself from imagined harm by the burning of books, even if they contain only short stories and poems. Don't feel badly or draw conclusions about personal hostility towards you from book burning in Austria, it seems to be an accepted tradition.

Gerhard Rohringer
Santa Barbara

© Focal Point 2007 David Irving