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Friesische Straße 79a, 24937 Flensburg

On the parade ground (Exe), huge metre-high flames lit up the sky in the night of 30 May 1933 when “books, works, banners and communist flags turned into dust and ash” (Flensburger Nachrichten). It was the book-burning carried out by the Nazi regime in Flensburg.

Those who visit the Exe in Flensburg nowadays use it as a car park. For the locals, it conjures up circus tents or German singer Herbert Grönemeyer’s concert in 2008. However, for centuries the Exerzierplatz was a place for assemblies and marksmen’s guilds and for cattle and general markets. At the start of the 19th century, the local Danish garrison used the site as a parade ground. In the 1848-50, 1864 and 1870/71 wars, replenishments and carriages of the Danish or Prussian armies gathered there.[1] In 1920, just before the plebiscite, 35,000 German-minded people assembled on the Exe. They formed a procession and marched to à Nordertor and back to demonstrate against the Kapp Putsch[2], which could have put the referendum at risk. The square also played a role in the Third Reich. It was the place where “un-German books, drawings and documents” were burnt by the Flensburg Militant League for German Culture.[3] The latter’s chairman and stage actor Ferdinand Schröder (1879-1937) delivered the speech when books with “treacherous and subversive content” were collected from libraries and burnt. Schröder had prepared the public book-burning jointly with the director of the Militant League for German Culture, Egon Rüchel[4]. Earlier, on 20 March 1933, members of the Hitler Youth had attacked the municipal “young people’s home at Nordertor” as an unwanted rival, collected brochures and books and burnt them on the spot on Nordertorplatz.[5],[6] From 2015 onwards, thousands of refugees arrived in Flensburg. Many were given temporary accommodation in container homes on the Exe.

[1] Andreas Oeding, Broder Schwensen, Michael Sturm (Hrsg.): FLexikon. 725 Aha-Erlebnisse aus Flensburg!. 2009, S. 57

[2] GFS (Hrsg.): Flensburg, Geschichte einer Grenzstadt. 1966, S. 417

[3] Verführt. Verfolgt. Verschleppt. 2003, S. 35

[4] VVN & BdA (Hrsg.): Auf den Spuren von Verfolgung und Widerstand 1933-1945 in Flensburg, S. 48-49; deutsch und dänisch

[5] Autorin Dr. Birgit Ebbert auf: https://buecherverbrennung.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/buecherverbrennung-in-flensburg/, 29.6.18

[6] Bernd Philipsen: 150 Jahre Flensburger Tageblatt. Bücher auf dem Scheiterhaufen in: FT, 2. Juli 2015; https://www.shz.de/lokales/flensburger-tageblatt/buecher-auf-dem-scheiterhaufen-id10115386.html, 29.6.18