3 March 2021

Removing Problematic Literature

Bob Le Sueur, Growing Up Fast: An Ordinary Man’s Extraordinary Life in Occupied Jersey (Jersey: Seeker Publishing, 2020), p. 42:

I clearly remember one day a group of Germans coming in and informing the librarian that they were to search the shelves for any material that was thought hostile to German interests. While they were polite they were also very thorough, and climbed up to the highest alcoves in their quest to uncover literature to which the Reich might object. Their progress was marked by a series of thumps as books were flung to the floor, to be gathered up and disposed of. I’m sure there were many books there which were critical of the Nazi regime and it was hardly surprising that they were to be destroyed, but I found it very, very hurtful. It was a clear reminder that free information was something not to be countenanced. 

I do remember thinking that any German soldier who was intellectually alive could not have done that job.


Wartime poster designed by S. Broder
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1942
Image from the Library of Congress