German libraries are not collecting Russian books in order to burn them during the winter

  • The Saxon State and University library (SLUB) in Dresden is not collecting Russian books to burn them during the cold months.
  • The claims about other German libraries collecting books for burning are also completely false.

A note, claiming to be issued by the Saxon State and University library in Dresden, has been spreading through social media channels since the beginning of September 2022. A reader of Factcheck.bg sent us a request to do an investigation on the given case.

The text of the note is as follows (translated from German):

“Dear readers,

Facing the Russian aggression is our mutual mission. There is no place for Russian literature in your libraries. Regarding the latest measures about the reduction of the heating during the upcoming months we ask you to bring books by Russian authors, which we will use for the heating of our library. This way you will be able to continue reading good books even if Putin cuts off the gas.

From the headquarters of the library.”

The note consists as well of contacts of the SLUB, including the email and telephone number of the general director of the institution – Katrin Stump.

The answer of the library

The verification of Factcheck.bg found out that the Dresden library published an official statement just several days after the falsified note began spreading through social media. The SLUB says that the shared information is false and that the note is not issued by them.

The general director of the library Katrin Stump shares the official statement on her Twitter account as well. It can be found in German, English and Russian.

”We have already filed a criminal complaint because of the fake letter. Please do not spread the false information any further and support us by raising awareness that this is a targeted disinformation campaign”, is written in the official statement of the SLUB.

Series of attacks

The SLUB is not the only victim of this disinformation campaign. Cases of similar fake messages being shared on behalf of other German libraries have also been reported.

Almost identical note on behalf of the Hamburg library has also spread through social media. The fake letter encourages readers to bring unnecessary books, which the library will use as a source of heating during the upcoming months.

While the fake note on behalf of the SLUB talks specifically of Russian books the fake note on behalf of the Hamburg library just says “unnecessary” books and does not specify further. Our verification found out that one of the channels where the falsified message on behalf of the Hamburg library is actively shared is the Telegram channel of the German journalist Alina Lipp “News about Russia” (Neues aus Russland). As of 14th September 2022 the post with the fake note in that channel has more than 96K views.

On 2nd September 2022 the Hamburg library published an official statement in which it’s said that the shared note is fake and it has nothing to do with the deeds of the library. It’s also stated that the library has filed a police report for abuse of their logo and the spreading of false information.

The case gained the interest of fact checkers around whole Europe. The issue has been investigated by Italian fact checkers from BUTAC, by the German non-governmental investigative site CORRECTIV and by the Austrian fact-checking site MIMIKAMA. The conclusion of those verifications coincides with our own: it’s not true that German libraries are collecting Russian or other books in order to burn them during the winter.

Fact checked:

The claims that German libraries encourage readers to bring Russian or unnecessary books, which will be burned as a source of heating during the winter, are untrue. The “official letters”, spreading through Internet, are falsified. The libraries in Dresden and Hamburg publicly describe those messages as false and confirm that they are not collecting Russian or other books for burning in the upcoming months.

Translated by Vanessa Nikolova


Fake News zur SLUB in den sozialen Netzwerken/ Fake News about the SLUB in the social networks: https://blog.slub-dresden.de/beitrag/2022/9/2/fake-news-zur-slub-in-den-sozialen-netzwerken

Nein, die Hamburger Bücherhallen nehmen keine „unnötigen Bücher“ zum Heizen an: https://correctiv.org/faktencheck/2022/09/02/nein-die-hamburger-buecherhallen-nehmen-keine-unnoetigen-buecher-zum-heizen-an/

Fake News zu den Bücherhallen: https://www.buecherhallen.de/blog-artikel/fake-news-zu-den-buecherhallen.html

Landesbibliothek wehrt sich gegen Desinformationskampagne: https://www.zeit.de/news/2022-09/03/landesbibliothek-wehrt-sich-gegen-desinformationskampagne?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2F

I libri russi usati come riscaldamento?: https://www.butac.it/libri-russi-usati-riscaldamento/#

Nein, die sächsische Landesbibliothek in Dresden will nicht mit Büchern russischer Autoren heizen: https://correctiv.org/faktencheck/2022/09/08/nein-die-saechsische-landesbibliothek-in-dresden-will-nicht-mit-buechern-russischer-autoren-heizen/

Bücherhallen Hamburg: Kein Recycling von Altpapier für zukünftige Heizungen: https://www.mimikama.at/buecherhallen-hamburg-fakenews/

Fake News about Bücherhallen: https://www.buecherhallen.de/blog-artikel/fake-news-about-buecherhallen.html

This publication has been created within the project FENCE: Building resilience for safeguarding political debates in EU Southeast frontiers, with the support of the European Union. The responsibility for the content lies entirely with Factcheck.bg.

This publication is part of the project "Science and Journalism: Together Against Infodemic", which has financial support of the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for the content of the publication belongs to AEJ-Bulgaria and under no circumstances it reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Operator of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria (www.activecitizensfund.bg).

Vanessa Nikolova
Vanessa Nikolova
Vanessa Nikolova graduated in journalism from the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski". She has worked as an editor and translator in print and online media. She is interested in topics related to the Western Balkans and the Far East, including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. She is passionate about astronomy and astrophysics, and one of her goals as a journalist is to make science more accessible and interesting for the average reader. Works with English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Serbian and Korean languages.

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