On May 10th 1933 in Berlin, after a speech by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi German Student Association burned around 20,000 books at Opernplatz, in front of the library of Humboldt University. This resulted in some of the most chillingly emblematic and prophetic images of the descent into World War Two, and set dangerous precedents for populist anti-intellectualism.
Renamed following the war after August Bebel, one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Bebelplatz today hosts ‘The Empty Library’ a memorial by Micha Ullman, which in turn, bears a quote by Heinrich Heine, "That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people".
Untitled (Bebelplatz) is a five-colour lithograph, featuring layered, highly-saturated separate drawings and paintings, variously enhancing and obfuscating each other. It shows the site of the event, the centre of the square facing the university building, close to 90 years after the book burning.
Narbi Price, September 2020