Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ published in Germany for first time since WWII

Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History: ‘This edition exposes the false information spread by Hitler’


MUNICH — An annotated edition of “Mein Kampf,” the first version of Adolf Hitler’s notorious manifesto to be published in Germany since the end of World War II, went on sale Friday —  a volume that many hope will help demystify the book and debunk the Nazi leader’s writing.

The Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History has worked for several years on the plain-covered volume, officially titled “Hitler, Mein Kampf: A Critical Edition.” It launched the book days after the copyright of the German-language original expired at the end of 2015 — 70 years after Hitler’s death.

Over the years Bavaria’s state finance ministry had used its copyright on the book to prevent the publication of new editions. The book wasn’t actually banned in Germany, though, and could be found online, in secondhand bookshops and in libraries.

The new edition “sets out as far as possible Hitler’s sources, which were deeply rooted in the German racist tradition of the late 19th century,” said the Munich institute’s director, Andreas Wirsching. “This edition exposes the false information spread by Hitler, his downright lies and his many half-truths, which aimed at a pure propaganda effect.”

“At a time when the well-known formulae of far-right xenophobia are threatening to become … socially acceptable again in Europe, it is necessary to research and critically present the appalling driving forces of National Socialism and its deadly racism,” Wirsching said.

Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” — “My Struggle” —  after he was jailed following the failed 1923 coup attempt known as the Beer Hall Putsch. The rambling tome set out Hitler’s ultranationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-communist ideology, which would culminate in the Holocaust and a war of conquest in eastern Europe.

Millions of copies were printed after the Nazis took power in 1933, and it was published after the war in several other countries.

German authorities have made clear that they won’t tolerate any new editions without commentary, though none is known to be in the works, with incitement laws likely to be used against any such publications. They are, however, broadly supportive of the annotated edition.

“I think one shouldn’t pretend the book doesn’t exist,” Education Minister Johanna Wanka told n-tv television. “Such taboos can sometimes be counterproductive. It’s important that people who want to debunk this book have the appropriate material.”

Ian Kershaw, a Briton who is a leading biographer of Hitler, joined Friday’s book presentation and said it was “high time for a rigorously academic edition of ‘Mein Kampf”’ to be made available.

“For years, I have considered the lifting of the ban on publication long overdue,” Kershaw said. “Censorship is almost always pointless in the long term in a free society, and only contributes to creating a negative myth, making a forbidden text more mysterious and awakening an inevitable fascination with the inaccessible.”

Germany’s main Jewish group, the Central Council of Jews, said it has no objections to the critical edition but strongly supports ongoing efforts to prevent any new “Mein Kampf” without annotations. Its president, Josef Schuster, said he hopes the critical edition will “contribute to debunking Hitler’s inhuman ideology and counteracting anti-Semitism.”

Jewish opinion has been divided, however. One of Schuster’s predecessors, Charlotte Knobloch, has said she worries the new edition will simply awaken interest in the original, not the commentary.

The bulky new edition is priced at 59 euros ($64). But Wirsching cautioned that it’s important to avoid reducing the Nazi regime to Hitler — “that would be falling back to the 1950s.”



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Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ published in Germany for first time since WWII

  1. It’s happened. Right on. At last. The notorious work of a notorious historic person will show up on the shelves of Germany. The book whose leader had been keeping in fear the whole world within 5 years. The person who had wiped out millions of people’s lives. The one who had proven that small countries weight a lot. And you want to say that you would not like to read that book. You want to say that you wouldn’t like to delve in the world of thoughts of that freak and explore how it could have happened. Those who say “no” are big liars.

    That is why the sales of this work showed unbelievable rates — more than million copies throughout first week. Such rates even beat the release of last volume of “Harry Potter” by Joanna Rolling. As a matter of fact, Germans craved that book. But at the same time it’s strange and creepy somehow. In the country where the swastika and the Nazi salute are the reasons of virtually lifelong sentence more than 1% of the population buys the book which is more or less overwhelmed with it. Very weird, isn’t it?

    Personally, I don’t understand why this book has been banned in Germany (in some countries it is still not allowed) for more than 70 years. I don’t understand what German authorities wanted to achieve with this prohibition — they are frustrated and ashamed? So, on the contrary, they should have printed it as much as possible. The number of copies should have overcome The Holly Bible ones. This is the only way to show the whole world how foolish we were. This is a good way to ask for apologies and expiate fault, if it is possible.

    Besides, there are lots of other really dangerous books which might cause irreversible damages to the human brain, kind of psycho literature. Those books still may appear in the hands of any kid. But nobody cares. Furthermore, there is nothing cruel enough in Hitler’s book as somebody might have expected. There are no tough chapters with mass massacres of Gipsies or Jewish incinerations. That is why some new mentally-ill owners of this book will be downcast. “Mein Kampf” or “My Struggle” only contains a brief history of Hitler’s life, the main ideas and postulates of the Nazi party. Nothing else. It will not damage society and trigger a WWIII. Don’t exaggerate. Studying and learning the ideas Hitler invented will not necessarily make you a Nazi, but, vice versa, can prevent from such zombieism happens again. As far as I’m concerned, his ideas still exist. Nazi’s techniques are applied so far and even flourish. Having understood the essence of this “disease” we can eliminate it once and for all.

    So, if you are still hesitating whether this book is worth reading or you are scared it can affect your outlook, calm down, go to the bookstore and buy it. Learn your potential enemy before it learns you.

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