Monday 24 October 2016

Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' to get first new German edition in 70 years

Geir Moulson

Published 28/12/2015 | 02:30

A copy of 'Mein Kampf', Adolf Hitler's notorious anti-Semitic book
A copy of 'Mein Kampf', Adolf Hitler's notorious anti-Semitic book

For 70 years since the Nazi defeat in World War II, copyright law has been used in Germany to prohibit the publication of 'Mein Kampf' - the notorious anti-Semitic tome in which Adolf Hitler set out his ideology.

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That will change next month when a new edition with critical commentary, the product of several years' work by a publicly funded institute, hits the shelves.

While historians say it could help fill a gap in Germans' knowledge of the era, Jewish groups are wary and German authorities are making it clear that they still won't tolerate any new versions of 'Mein Kampf' without annotations.

Under German law, a copyright expires at the end of the year 70 years after an author's death - in this case, Hitler's April 30, 1945, suicide in a Berlin bunker as the Soviet army closed in. That means the state of Bavaria, which holds the copyright, won't be able to use it to prevent the work's publication beyond this December 31.

The book has been published in several other countries; in the US, for example, Bavaria never controlled the copyright.

In Germany, many argue that holding back 'Mein Kampf' merely created mystique around the book.

Hitler wrote 'Mein Kampf' - or 'My Struggle' - after he was jailed following the failed 1923 coup attempt known as the Beer Hall Putsch. Millions of copies were printed after the Nazis took power in 1933.

The rambling tome set out Hitler's ultranationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-communist ideology for his National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi party, airing the idea of a war of conquest in eastern Europe.

"The book should not be underestimated as a historical source and also as a key to understanding the history of National Socialism," the director of the Munich institute, Andreas Wirsching, said ahead of the new edition's mid-January publication.

"Among serious historians in Germany, you won't find one who is against a commented edition and hasn't been calling for one for years," said Sven Felix Kellerhoff, a historian and journalist with the daily 'Die Welt'.

While there is disagreement in Germany over the merits of the forthcoming annotated edition, there is wide agreement that Hitler still shouldn't be left to speak uncontradicted.

Irish Independent

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