This post focuses on books — then and now. Seems familiar. In my home state — Texas — politicians are deciding what public school students may read. I have no doubt they’d restrict my reading, too, if they could.
Bebelplatz, near Humboldt University, was the site of one of the Nazi book burnings in 1933 in many German college towns. That’s the Humboldt law school on the right. The plaza was being cleared for a celebration of the reunification of East and West Germany.
Today, on Bebelplatz, you’ll see people gathered around a point in the square and squinting down. The glass plate set in the paving stones is a memorial to what was lost that evening in 1933.
If you look closely, you can see an underground room with empty bookshelves, enough to hold about 20,000 books, a reminder of the number that went up in flames here. Israeli artist Micha Ullman designed the memorial, which was unveiled in 1995. A book exchange used to be out here, too. I note there is one just inside the door of the law school.
Books have rebounded in Berlin. One of my favorite pasttimes in Germany is to visit a city’s biggest bookstore. In Munich, it’s Hugendubel. In Berlin, it’s Dussmann.
There’s a visceral pleasure to seeing, smelling or touching yards and yards of books on shelves. This is a small part of the languages section.
Seemingly on every floor, there’s a niche where you can sit and talk.