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"How WW2 Turned Soldiers into Bookworms" Topic


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©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2023 7:58 p.m. PST

"In January 1942, thousands of New Yorkers gathered on the steps of the legendary New York Public Library, at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, wearing their Sunday best and warmest coats. When standing room became scarce, crowds formed across the street. Nearly everyone had at least one book in hand. These were not overdue, nor did they need to be returned to the library; instead they were "Victory Books," bound for soldiers overseas.

It may be difficult to appreciate the significance of a book drive held nearly 75 years ago. But this was no ordinary campaign. At the time, books—vehicles for new ideas—were being banned and burned in Europe by the German Army. As the Nazis swept through Europe—occupying Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark—restrictions were placed on the authors and titles that could be read in these conquered territories; books by American, British, and Jewish authors were outlawed. The most severe penalty for being caught with such contraband was death. This threatened punishment produced Germany's desired effect: Strict compliance with the book bans was the norm…"

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