Should Hitler’s autobiography be back in print?

Central Council of Jews backs proposal to republish Mein Kampf

Hitler’s anti-Semitic autobiography has been illegal in Germany since 1945, but now the country’s leading Jewish group, the Central Council of Jews, has taken the unprecedented step of backing a proposal to republish it. Stephan Kramer, the general secretary, supports a new scholarly edition of the work designed to inform future generations of the evils of Nazism. “It makes sense and is important to publish an edition of Mein Kampf with an academic commentary,” Kramer said. However the southern state of Bavaria, which holds the rights to the book, remains strongly opposed to the idea. “We won’t lift the ban as it may play straight into the hands of the far right,” said a spokesman for the Bavarian government. Other Jewish organizations and several German academics, including the historian Jürgen Faulenbach, also oppose republishing the work and insist that it does little to throw light on the Nazi era. But Bavaria’s rights over the book are due to expire in 2015. In an attempt to forestall any new legal ban on the book after that, Munich’s Institute for Contemporary History applied this week for permission to reprint the work in 2016. It aims to produce an edition containing scholarly footnotes challenging most of Hitler’s assertions. “A scientific edition would help to dispel the peculiar myths surrounding this book,” said Horst Möller, the Institute’s director. And British historian and acclaimed Hitler biographer Sir Ian Kershaw noted that attempts to ban Mein Kampf were a waste of time in the Internet age. Kramer agrees: “It is all the more important that young people should see the critical version when they click on to Mein Kampf on the web.”

The Independent

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