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Historical Approach to Fahrenheit 451

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The burning of books under Nazi administration on May 10, 1933, has become a historical analogy to all such events that include book burning, a symbolism which is now being shown even in films. Nazi book burnings were conducted by the officials of Nazi Germany. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, started the campaign of bringing German arts, literature, and culture, along the lines of Nazi ideas. The campaign, “Action against the Un-German Spirit”, started on April 6, 1933, when it was decided to cleanse all literature by way of fire. Hence, all those books, which did not go in accordance with the ideology of the Nazis, were burnt down. The date of May 10, 1933 saw the burning of 25,000 volumes of un-German books, signifying an age of state suppression and control of civilization.

Book burning is also the theme of Fahrenheit 451, which is a sarcastic science fiction illustrating an ultramodern, dictatorial society. The film shows firemen with flamethrowers being ordered to burn down all those books that contain objectionable or seductive content, or ideas that provoke thought and ambiguity among citizens, which may invoke questioning the government. Books are considered as a danger to state oppression, and thus, it is thought better to destroy them than to let the citizens read them, in the film. Hence, we see that the theme behind book burning in the Nazi regime is similar to that shown in Fahrenheit 451, that is, to keep the citizens away from such books that invoke independent thought.

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