The Twelve Theses were issued in early April 1933 by Press and Propaganda Section[1] of the German Student Association and called for German university students to purge German language and literature of Jewish influence and to restore those aspects of German culture to their "pure" volkische traditions. The theses were posted on university campuses throughout Germany prior to the May 1933 book burnings.[1]

Text of ThesesEdit

The English text of the theses (as those are posted to the right) reads as follows:[2]

Against the un-German (undeutschen) spirit

1 Language and literature have their roots in the Volk. It is the German Volk's responsibility to assure that its language and literature are the pure and unadulterated expression of its Volk traditions.

2 At present there is a chasm between literature and German tradition. This situation is a disgrace.

3 Purity of language and literature is your responsibility! Your Volk has entrusted you with the duty of faithfully preserving your language.

4 Our most dangerous enemy is the Jew and those who are his slaves.

5 A Jew can only think Jewish. If he writes in German, he is lying. The German who writes in German, but thinks un-German, is a traitor. The student who speaks and writes un-German is, in addition, thoughtless and has abandoned his duties.

6 We want to eradicate lies, we want to denounce treason, we want institutions of discipline and political education for us the students, not mindlessness.

7 We want to regard the Jew as alien and we want to respect the traditions of the Volk. Therefore, we demand of the censor:

Jewish writings are to be published in Hebrew.
If they appear in German, they must be identified as translations.
Strongest actions against the abuse of German script.
German script is only available to Germans.
The un-German spirit is to be eradicated from public libraries.

8 We demand of the German students the desire and capability for independent knowledge and decisions.

9 We demand of German students the desire and capability to maintain the purity of the German language.

10 We demand of German students the desire and capability to overcome Jewish intellectualism and the resulting liberal decay in the German spirit.

11 We demand the selection of students and professors in accordance with their reliability and commitment to the German spirit.

12 We demand that German universities be a stronghold of the German Volk tradition and a battleground reflecting the power of the German mind.

The German Student Association

Observations on the Twelve ThesesEdit

  1. While the theses targeted the "Jewish spirit" (jüdischer Geist) and books expressing this, it also attacked concepts that were "un-German" (undeutsch). It is not clear from the theses themselves whether this term is intended to be synonymous with Jewishness.
  2. The theses do not themselves expressly call for book burning.
  3. Thesis 1 expressly implies that there should be no foreign literature in Germany, entailing a complete ban of all non-German literature.[3]
  4. Theses 11 and 12 would reserve German universities exclusively to German students and professors, devoid of foreign elements.[3]

See alsoEdit

Reference WorksEdit

  • Levy, Richard S. (2005). Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1851094393 (Levy). 


  1. 1.0 1.1 This section was also founded in early April and the issuance of the theses was its first action. Levy p. 79.
  2. The theses appeared in the Volkischer Beobachter of 14 April 1933.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ritchie p. 67.

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