Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf will go on sale in Germany next week for the first time since the Second World War.
The Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) has re-published an annotated critical edition of the Nazi leader’s political treatise, as the book’s 70-year copyright — which has been held by the state to prevent any new printing — expires at end of December.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, German historian and writer Sven Felix Kellerhoff welcomed the taboo-breaking move, saying the long ban on re-printing the book, even a critical edition, had failed to stop far-right myth-making about Hitler’s text.
Kellerhoff — author of Berlin Under The Swastika and The Stasi And The West — said the restriction had been counterproductive and had failed to prevent neo-Nazi propaganda, instead creating new myths about the book.
“The far-right internet sites have long used this as propaganda, claiming that Mein Kampf involves some very genuine truths which are kept secret from the German public,” he said.
“Of course these claims are nonsense. But the policy of the ban has led to new myths about the book. It is not the content of the book, but rather these myths about Mein Kampf, which makes it dangerous,” he stressed.
Hitler’s Mein Kampf [My Struggle] was composed by the Nazi leader between 1924 and 1926. The two-volume book involves Hitler’s biography and the political program of his National Socialist German Workers’ Party [the NSDAP or “Nazis”].
The book sold more than nine million copies across Germany until the end of the Second World War. After the collapse of the Nazi regime and the death of Hitler, the Allied forces handed its copyright to the southern German state of Bavaria.
The Bavarian state government has so far prevented any new printing of the book due to its anti-Semitic content and concerns that it may further strengthen neo-Nazi propaganda of extremist groups.
Jewish organizations have long opposed lifting the ban on re-printing Mein Kampf; however, Germans are able to access the text online.
Despite concerns raised by various groups over the publication of the book next month, at a time of growing xenophobia and right-wing extremism in Germany, Kellerhoff said that the annotated critical edition of Mein Kampf would not increase the popularity of such movements.
“It is highly unlikely that it would enter the bestseller list in Germany, as the institution is planning to print around 4,000 copies,” he said.
The Institute for Contemporary History is planning to release the book “Hitler, Mein Kampf: A Critical Edition” next week and it will hit bookshops between Jan. 8 and 11.
The annotated, critical edition of the Nazi leader’s book will be published in two volumes, and will sell for €59 ($62).
However, a re-print of the book for propaganda or commercial purposes in the future will face legal hurdles.
Justice ministers of 16 federal states agreed in 2014 to prevent any new print of Mein Kamp for propaganda purposes, by taking legal action in line with the German Criminal Code, which punishes hate speech and incitement of popular hatred.