It was a frenetic few minutes for Mac and the others being processed, for that is what was happening.
Forced to stand in front of a table, Mac was asked to confirm his name, had his photograph taken and then was roughly led in line to the central courtyard. And what a sight awaited him.
Hundreds of elderly men and women dressed in rags and covered in soot were pulling books and manuscripts from the back of trucks and piling them up. Others set about the piles, ripping and shredding and tearing with their bare hands, filling barrows and then wheeling them towards enormous bonfires that crackled and spat in the half-light.
Here more ragged people threw the paper onto the flames. Everything was orange and everyone was choking.
‘My God,’ said Mac in horror, ‘they’re emptying the libraries!’