A Boston-based publishing company has decided to donate proceeds from Adolf Hitler’s infamous manifesto “Mein Kampf” to a local organization that works with aging Holocaust survivors.
The move comes after publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was criticized by Jewish advocates for its plans to donate proceeds and royalties from the book to Boston-area cultural organizations, and not necessarily to those that combat anti-Semitism.
Following the backlash, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt partnered with Boston-based Combined Jewish Philanthropies to determine “how best to provide aid directly to the victims of the horrific events of the Holocaust,” Andrew Russell, the publisher’s director of corporate social responsibility, said in a statement.
Moving forward, the proceeds from “Mein Kampf” will be donated to Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Boston for “direct support of the health and human services needs of (Holocaust) survivors,” Russell said.
The publisher had been donating proceeds from sales of the book to organizations that combat anti-Semitism since 2000, but last year announced they were going to widen the scope to include other cultural organizations. That caused Jewish advocates to speak out. They now welcome the decision to focus on Holocaust-specific causes.
“JF&CS will direct the grant money exclusively to support the needs of the Holocaust survivors we meet with every day,” JF&CS CEO Rimma Zelfand said in a statement. “As Holocaust survivors grow increasingly frail, many of our clients have a far greater need for care than is covered by our existing funding.”
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt declined to provide the annual amount of proceeds generated from 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 his ultranationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-communist ideology, which would culminate in the Holocaust and a war of conquest in Europe.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has published a version of the book continuously since 1933. During World War II, proceeds were directed to the U.S. Justice Department. In 1979, the publishing firm reclaimed its royalty rights and kept the book’s proceeds for itself until 2000, when it began donating the funds to combat anti-Semitism, according to The Boston Globe.
The New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League praised the publisher’s decision to donate all the proceeds to JF&CS, calling it a “smart choice” to direct the funds to those whose lives were most affected by the book.
Robert Trestan, regional director for the ADL, said the decision is important now more than ever. His organization says anti-Semitism is on the rise globally.
“It’s a reminder that efforts need to be put into combatting anti-Semitism, educating the next generation about the Holocaust and, of course, supporting the victims,” Trestan said.