History Rhymes

by Andrew Stuttaford

A number of people here have noted that yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Well, in Mali they were burning books.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Fleeing Islamist extremists torched a library containing historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, the mayor said Monday, as French and Malian forces closed in on Mali’s fabled desert city. Ousmane Halle said he heard about the burnings early Monday.

“It’s truly alarming that this has happened,” he told The Associated Press by telephone from Mali’s capital, Bamako, on Monday. “They torched all the important ancient manuscripts. The ancient books of geography and science. It is the history of Timbuktu, of its people.”

Heinrich Heine (1821):

…[D]ort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen (“Where they burn books, they will also, in the end, burn people”).

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