The Bebelplatz is a public square in the central ‘Mitte’ district of Germany’s capital city, Berlin. Today it is best known for being the site where some 20,000 newly banned books were burned by bonfire in 1933 on order of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, because they conflicted with Nazi ideology. The square is surrounded by notable historical buildings, including the German State Opera (Staatsoper); St. Hedwig’s Cathedral (built in 1747 and modeled after Rome’s Pantheon, it was the first Catholic church built in Germany after the Protestant Reformation); and the former Royal Prussian Library (Alte Bibliothek) which is now part of Humboldt University.
All of the buildings on the Bebelplatz were destroyed in World War II and reconstructed afterward. An easily overlooked monument in the center of the square simply contains a pane of glass, which the visitor can look through to see many rows of empty bookshelves underground. A nearby plaque quotes the 19th-century German poet Heinrich Heine with, ‘Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people.’
Be sure to pack your walking shoes, because like many city centers in Germany, the Bebelplatz is a pedestrianonly square. It is located on the south side of Unter den Linden boulevard, a major eastwest thoroughfare that traverses Berlin’s city center. The square also has its own stop on public transit. The underground lines that stop there are the U6 (Französische Str.) and the U2 (Hausvogteiplatz). The bus lines going to Bebelplatz are: 100, 147, 200, N2, N6, and TXL.