In Harmful and Undesirable, Guenter Lewy analyzes the various strategies that the Nazis employed to enact censorship and the government officials who led the attack on a free intellectual life, including Martin Bormann, Philipp Bouhler, Joseph Goebbels, and Alfred Rosenberg. The Propaganda Ministry played a leading role in the censorship campaign, supported by an array of organizations at both the state and local levels. Because of the many overlapping jurisdictions and organizations, censorship was disorderly and erratic.
Beyond the implementation of censorship, Lewy describes the plight of authors, publishers, and bookstores who clashed with the Nazi regime. Some authors were imprisoned. Others, such as Gottfried Benn, Werner Bergengruen, Gerhart Hauptmann, Ernst Junger, Jochen Klepper, and Ernst Wiechert, became controversial "inner emigrants" who chose to remain in Germany. Some of them criticized the Nazi regime through allegories and parables. Ultimately, Lewy paints a fascinating portrait of intellectual life under the Nazi dictatorship, detailing the dismal fate of those who were caught in the wheels of censorship.