The Bebelplatz was originally named after August Bebel who was the co-founder of the German Social Democrat party in 1869 . During the Nazi era it became known as the Opernplaz, the Opera Square. On the 10th of May 1933, the Opernplatz became the site of the infamous book burning by the Third Reich. Over 25,000 books by Jewish authors and liberal leftists were collected and then burnt in the square. Authors such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Zuckmayer, Heinrich Mann, Robert Musil, Kurt Tucholsky and Lion Feuchtwanger were considered "un-German" and thus enemies of the Third Reich. Joseph Gobbels, the Imperial Minister for Enlightment & Propoganda watched on as National Socialist students threw the books onto a large bonfire.
The square now has a memorial to the book burning of 1933 . On the memorial is a plaque that reads "this is just the beginning. Wherever books are burnt, people are burnt too" from the poet Heinrich Heine whose books were among those incinerated.