Are Germans ready for a republishing of 'Mein Kampf'?
A German magazine's plan to print excerpts from 'Mein Kampf' has prompted fury and legal threats.
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What’s even more interesting, however, is that the book’s copyright expires 70 years after the author’s death, which means Bavaria has rights to “Mein Kampf” only through 2015. It’s likely, then, that this will be the first of many attempts to republish the work.Skip to next paragraph
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Though Holocaust groups and Jewish organizations like the Central Council of Jews in Germany are worried the republication “could make Hitler a bestselling author in the 21st century and become a sort of blueprint for extremist groups,” as the Washington Post writes, the book is widely available inside Germany and around the world.
Every German couple who got married between 1936 and 1945 received a copy of “Mein Kampf” as a wedding gift from the Nazi state, a total of some 10 million copies, British historian Ian Kershaw, told the AFP, which means the book became very prevalent in German homes. And the book is widely available on the Internet in numerous translations, as a digital book, and in other countries, where there are fewer restrictions on its publication. According to the Wall Street Journal and AFP, it’s even available in German libraries for academic study and in Hebrew translations in Israel.
Still, “Mein Kampf” retains an aura of the forbidden in Germany. Still haunted by its dark past, the country outlaws Nazi symbols, has debated whether a far-right political party should be banned, and considers Hitler’s book with trepidation.
That, McGee has argued, is exactly why the manifesto should be republished.
“The problem with this book in Germany is that because it's unavailable, because it's been blocked in Germany, it's been allowed to develop this mystique,” he told the AP. “If you shine a very bright light on it so people can see it for themselves with some structure and analysis, I think it will be one small part of demystifying the aura, the taboo that exists around it.”
In fact, writes the Wall Street Journal, publishing “Mein Kampf” will serve to remove the allure of the forbidden from Nazi manifesto, rendering the book and its twisted ideology impotent.
“Suppressing books is almost always a terrible idea, and so is suppressing history,” writes the Journal’s editorial board. "Neo-Nazi fringe groups have existed in Germany for decades, their allure somewhat enhanced by their associations with the forbidden. Publishing 'Mein Kampf' will do nothing to broaden its appeal. But it can help make the topic as boring as the book itself.”
For now, the fate of McGee’s republishing project remains to be seen.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.