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March 17, 2020 12:08 pm

Amazon Restricts Sales of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ and Other Nazi Publications

avatar by Ben Cohen

A customer holds a Polish copy of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ at a bookstore in Wroclaw, Feb. 23, 2005. Photo: Reuters / Pierre Logwin PA / WS.

Sales of Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) — the antisemitic manifesto penned by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in 1924 while he was serving a prison sentence in Germany — have been severely restricted by online retailer Amazon, it emerged on Monday.

According to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian, booksellers have been informed by Amazon in recent days that they will no longer be allowed to sell a number of Nazi-authored books on the website, including Hitler’s screed and children’s books designed to spread antisemitic ideas among children.

Most editions of Mein Kampf have been delisted from Amazon’s site, The Guardian reported. The academic edition of the book — published by American imprint Houghton Mifflin and featuring an introduction by Abraham Foxman, the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — remains available.

Holocaust commemoration groups and Jewish organizations have been pressing Amazon to clamp down on sales of Nazi books since the 1990s.

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Other Nazi publications including the children’s book The Poisonous Mushroom written by Nazi publisher Julius Streicher have also recently removed from Amazon’s listings.

Until recently, customers looking to purchase another title by Streicher, The Mongrel, were able to buy the illustrated children’s guide to “the Jewish question” for about $10, according to The Guardian. The book described itself as offering a “dozen stories about dangerous or harmful animals, each followed by an unflattering comparison to Jewry.”

Streicher, the notorious publisher of Der Sturmer, a Nazi rag infamous for its pornographic antisemitism, was executed after World War II for crimes against humanity.

The Guardian disclosed that “Amazon would not comment on what had prompted it to change its mind on the issue but a recent intervention to remove the books by the London-based Holocaust Educational Trust received the backing of leading British politicians.”

The paper added Amazon had acknowledged the charity’s fears last month, when it said that the company was “mindful of book censorship throughout history” but was taking “concerns from the Holocaust Educational Trust seriously.”

An Amazon spokesperson in the US told The Hill on Monday, “As a bookseller, we provide customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including titles that serve an important educational role in understanding and preventing antisemitism. All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer and we do not take selection decisions lightly.”

Houghton Mifflin paid the US government almost $40,000 in 1979 to secure the publishing rights to Mein Kampf. Sales of the book have since netted the company approximately $700,000 in profits.

In 2000, Houghton Mifflin announced that all profits from Mein Kampf would be donated to charity. Beneficiaries have included Facing History and Ourselves, an educational institution whose mission is to “address racism, antisemitism, and prejudice at pivotal moments in history,” so as to “help students connect choices made in the past to those they will confront in their own lives.”

In his introduction to the edition of Mein Kampf published by Houghton Mifflin in 1999, the ADL’s Foxman argued that keeping Hitler’s text in the public domain was regrettably necessary to gain a proper understanding of the Nazi era.

“When we encounter things of beauty, it is natural to want to display them; here the tendency is reversed and the desire is to blot out this work of ugliness and depravity,” Foxman wrote. “We should not let ourselves succumb to this temptation … ‘Zakhor,’ we are taught, “Remember” — not just the victims but the evil that was done to them. Commit the evil to memory in order to reject it; reject the evil, but do not let yourself forget it. Zakhor, and so we keep the Nazi bible in print.”

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