For the first time since World War II, Germany is set to republish Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The move by the Bavarian State – who owns the rights to the book’s publication – is a bid to curb unauthorized proliferation of Hitler’s Nazi doctrine before the copyright expires in 2015.
Under the current climate, copying or printing the book in Germany is prohibited, but owning and buying the book is legal — unless it is used to spread hate.
The ban, however, which began when Bavaria claimed ownership of Hitler’s estate in 1945, has never been upheld on an international stage, and used copies are available at online giants amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com for under five dollars.
Yet, as per German law, the book enters “public domain” on January 1st, 2016, 70 years after Hitler committed suicide. Fearing that neo-Nazi groups in Germany will then distribute Mein Kampf to advance anti-semitic agendas, the state of Bavaria has announced it will release its own annotated edition – a project Bavarian Finance Minister, Markus Soder, claims should “make clear what nonsense it is [Mein Kampf].”
Dieter Graumann, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told AFP that while he would prefer the book “disappeared on a dust heap of contempt,” he saw the State’s decision as “responsible.”
However, despite good intentions, the new edition is sure to test nerves and fears that the book may inspire neo-Nazi violence.
Another highly controversial book, The Turner Diaries, banned as “hate propaganda” by Germany and Canada, has similarly been linked to inciting violence. Photocopies of the novel by William Pierce, which depicts a violent revolution against the United States government and a race war against Jews and non-whites, was found in Timothy McVeigh’s getaway car when he was arrested for the 1995 Oklohoma city bombings that claimed 168 lives.
According to Soeder, the new Bavarian edition of Mein Kampf looks to tackle such apprehension, and, with a special version appropriate for schoolchildren, will highlight the “worldwide catastrophe brought about by this way of thinking.”