To print or not to print Adolf Hitler's autobiography - 'Mein Kampf'

Adolf Hitler’s autobiography falls out of copyright in two months; Germany is agonising over reprint of the book, which is banned in the country since Nazi defeat

Berlin: With only two months to go before the copyright of Hitler’s Mein Kampf expires, debate is raging over whether the anti-Semitic manifesto should again be published in Germany, where all reprints have been halted since the defeat of the Nazis.

Adolf Hitler looking at Mein Kampf published on parchment
Adolf Hitler looking at Mein Kampf published on parchment

Authorities in the southern Bavaria region were handed the copyright by Allied forces after World War II. For seven decades, they have refused to allow it to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

But as Mein Kampf — whose title means ‘My Struggle’ — falls into the public domain on January 1, differences have emerged over how it should be treated in the future. Some scholars want reprints of the original text to be allowed, saying they would serve to demystify the notorious 800-page document.

Print and be damned? A signed copy of a first edition of the book on display at an auction House in London on June 14, 2005. Pics/AFP
Print and be damned? A signed copy of a first edition of the book on display at an auction House in London on June 14, 2005. Pics/AFP

Jews say no
Jewish groups want to maintain the ban. Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish community in Munich and Upper Bavaria, said that even the annotated version carried certain risks as it “contains the original text” which “should itself not be printed”.

800 The number of pages in the original book

1924 The year in which Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, while he was imprisoned in Bavaria

Annotated version

Historians at the Institute of Contemporary History of Munich (IFZ) have produced an annotated version of the two-volume tome to be made available in stores in January. This IFZ version would be the first print version of the original text here since 1945. But it will also “deconstruct and put into context Hitler’s writing”, the institute wrote. The book, to retail at $65
(Rs 4,200), will look at: “How were his theses conceived? What objectives did he have? And most important: which counterarguments do we have given our knowledge today of the countless claims, lies and assertions of Hitler?”

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