After being banned in the Netherlands for over 70 years, a new Dutch translation of Hitler’s political manifesto Mein Kampf hit bookstores in August, and has become a best seller and caused controversy in the country, reports the European Jewish Congress. Even though booksellers are reluctant to even display it, the translation, Mijn Strijd, has been on the country’s bestseller list since its release – peaking in third place in mid-September.
With an introduction to each chapter by historian Dr. Willem Melching, the new Dutch edition of Mein Kampf is more than just a translation of Hitler’s work.
Its publisher, Prometheus – which ironically also publishes Anne Frank’s diary – writes that Melching’s introductions “place the book in its historical context,” providing readers with a “trustworthy” way in which “to become acquainted with this influential book.”
Nevertheless, the book has caused controversy in the Netherlands, with Op-Eds and media debates questioning whether the introductions are adequate and whether the book should have been published at all.
“I was alarmed to read that the book has become a best seller,” says Hanna Luden, the director of CIDI, the Netherlands’ main anti-Semitism watchdog. “Our main concern is that it will become a cult book, and we hope that people will read it with the relevant information on hand. The publisher has a commercial interest, not necessarily an ideological one. I hope they have good intentions,” says Luden.
Despite her concerns, Luden says the book does have the potential to increase knowledge about the horrors of the Holocaust. While education about the Holocaust period is on the decline, she has observed a growing trend toward remembrance and memorials, and says that the book may actually help raise awareness.
“The number of people coming to [Holocaust] ceremonies grows every year,” says Luden. “People want to know and it’s a good time to provide more information, which is what we should focus on: How to inform the public about damaging ideology and its effects.”