Banned books

Posted on 29th October 2012 by simonbeattie

This is the infamous Polunbi-Katalog, the so-called ‘bible’ of the German Central Police Bureau for Combating Obscene Pictures, Books and Advertisements (Deutsche ZentralPOLizeistelle zur Bekämpfung UNzüchtiger BIlder, Schriften und Inserate, or Polunbi) in 1920s Berlin.  The catalogue not only records what was confiscated, arranged alphabetically by title, but whether a book was withdrawn from circulation or ‘made unusable’, and by which authority and which court.  Literally thousands of books are listed.

There were two editions published (1920, pp. 102; 1926, pp. 228), plus three supplements (1921, pp. 13; 1929, pp. 88; 1936, pp. 158).  The front cover states that the book is ‘secret’ and ‘only for official use’; according to the preface, it was ‘to be regarded as a secret file and therefore to be kept under constant lock and key …  In the event of loss the number of the copy must be passed immediately to the Central Police Bureau’ (p. [3]).  As a consequence, copies of the catalogue are now extremely rare.

The history and activities of the Polunbi were a subject of a recent study by Gotthold Leistner (Polunbi …  Eine polizeihistorische Studie, Chemnitz, 2006), in which he says himself that more research remains to be done on this period of German censorship.

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