Hitler’s Mein Kampf to Return to German Bookshelves After 70-Year Ban

(The Washington Post) -

After 70 years of being banned, plans are underway in Germany to publish Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf once again.

Since the end of World War II, the German state of Bavaria has fiercely enforced its copyright on the autobiographical manifesto, barring any attempt to publish the book. But with the copyright due to expire at the end of this month, the long-banned Nazi tome will soon be revived.

The Munich-based and taxpayer-funded Institute of Contemporary History says it will issue an annotated version of the book, which will be published in two volumes running a total of 1,948 pages. The Institute was founded in 1949 to study and analyze the Nazi era.

Hitler wrote Mein Kampf – German for “my struggle” – in a Bavarian jail after a failed 1923 Nazi uprising. It was published in 1925 and 1926; in it, Hitler laid out his political philosophy, extolled the importance of propaganda and railed against Jews as “parasites.”

The debate over whether to allow new prints of the book has raged for years.

Free-speech advocates have long argued that the ban is an ineffective deterrent in the digital age.

In Berlin, old copies of Mein Kampf are kept in a secure “poison cabinet,” which Faiola described as “a literary danger zone in the dark recesses of the vast Bavarian State Library.”

“This book is too dangerous for the general public,” library historian Florian Sepp told Faiola.

Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors have said the book espouses an evil and violent ideology that must be kept from spreading.

“I am absolutely against the publication of Mein Kampf, even with annotations,” Levi Salomon, spokesman for the Berlin-based Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism, told The Washington Post earlier this year. “Can you annotate the devil? Can you annotate a person like Hitler?”

Salomon added: “This book is outside of human logic.”

But the debate is now moot.

The Institute has initial plans to publish just 3,500 to 4,000 copies of the book, according to reports.