I don’t think anyone with a regard for learning could watch them burn without being deeply pained; and being responsible for their demise piled guilt on top of the anguish.
Only on closer inspection you can identify a sunken glass plate between the pavement that provides a view into a room full of empty bookshelves.
The art work of the Israeli artist Micha Ullman is called "Library". Erich Kaestner, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Heinrich and Klaus Mann, Rosa Luxemburg, August Bebel, Bertha von Suttner and Stefan Zweig.
The subterranean bookshelves could accommodate about 20,000 books - and remind at the approximately 20,000 books, which the Nazis burnt on May 10th, 1933 on this place: works by journalists, writers, scientists and philosophers, seen as a threat to the Nazi ideology - in former terminology such as "literature, which undermines the moral and religious foundations of our nation" or "writings who glorify the Weimar Republic." Even works by communist thinkers should be wiped out in this "action against the un-German spirit". The Book burning memorial was inaugurated in March 1995.
In my defence, this was more of a cremation than a burning at the stake.
The books were already dead, terminally rotted after years of neglect.
If I had committed a crime, it was to let them get into this sorry state, not finally to put them out of their misery.
It was a long, slow ignominious end for what was once a proud, admired collection.
No civilised person is supposed to make bonfires of books.
‘Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings,’ wrote the German poet Heinrich Heine in the century before Nazism.
Burning books is a sacrilegious act, and the taboo against it particularly binds writers.
So what was I doing in a Somerset field lighting a match under the 32 volumes of the ?