Kumu Documentary: The Books He Didn’t Burn
Dir Jascha Hannover, Claus Bredenbrock
Germany 2023, 92 min
In English, German and French, with English subtitles
The film will be introduced by the historian David Vseviov
Ever since the horrific crimes against humanity masterminded by Adolf Hitler came to light, people from various disciplines and from all walks of life have tried to understand the mindset behind so much murder and suffering. Attempts to comprehend the Holocaust of the Jewish people and the Nazi German mass killing of other groups have looked at social and economic factors, psychology and even Hitler’s frustration at failing to become a renowned artist. This fascinating documentary attempts to understand Hitler’s motivation by examining some of his favourite books.
At the time of his suicide, Hitler had amassed a personal library of 16,000 books, 1,300 of which are currently in the United States, the majority of them in the Library of Congress. The film-makers Jascha Hannover and Claus Bredenbrock interview scholars and experts, including the American historian Timothy W. Ryback, who studied these books for almost a decade. Their examination points to the disturbing fact that much of the racist, antisemitic and eugenicist thinking that shaped Hitler’s philosophy was around long before the 1930s and is still influencing right-wing extremism today.
The Books He Didn’t Burn is narrated by the Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons, and presents an impressive array of archival footage and photographs.