Authoritarian governments and extremists of all stripes are responsible for widespread cultural destruction through terrorism, war, ethnic cleansing, and other forms of mass violence, of which book and library burnings are also a clear and prime example.

One way of making an ethnicity or culture disappear is to kill all its people; another one is to erase their past, their traditions, their culture, and replace them with the conquerors, which are considered to be better, more powerful, and even the only true ones.

To generate unity and loyalty among members of a group or nation, it is important to convince them that their group, dynasty, clan, religion, ethnicity, fraternity, political party, sports team, is better than the others. Taken to an extreme, this idea can lead to discrimination and even war and genocide.
There have been book and library burnings since ancient times. Even though we might think they have been over for decades, they are still ongoing. This presentation will provide several examples and analyse the motivations for this symbolic act.

It is important to understand that what is at risk with book burning is the preservation and continuation of the common cultural heritage of the world, something that should be defended at all costs.