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Germany

Copyright off on Hitler's 'Mein Kampf', but taboo remains

A copy of Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle) from 1940 is pictured in Berlin, Germany, in this picture taken December 16, 2015.
A copy of Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle) from 1940 is pictured in Berlin, Germany, in this picture taken December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Restrictions on one of the world's most controversial books were lifted on Friday, when Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' was released back into the public domain. For the first time since his death, Germany is publishing the Nazi leader's political treatise, unleashing a highly charged row over whether the text is an inflammatory racist diatribe or a useful educational tool.

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Today the copyright on Mein Kampf expires, meaning it can be published in Germany again. Some fear any reissue could boost neo-Nazism, while others welcome a new scholarly edition as an overdue chance to debunk it.

Over 12 million copies of Hitler's Mein kampf were printed before the Nazi regime fell in 1945, so there are plenty in circulation.

But given concerns over rising anti-semitism in Europe, the idea of putting a lot more copies on the market is a sensitive subject.

Up till now the southern German state of Bavaria - which has held the copyright since hitler died in 1945 - has not allowed the text to be republished out of respect for victims of the Holocaust.

Since 2009, however, historians at the Institute of Contemporary History of Munich have prepared an annotated - much longer - version of the book, which aims to “deconstruct and put Hitler’s writing into context.”

While only 4,000 copies have reportedly been printed, new versions of the book are expected in many other countries.

In Israel, any large-scale republication is forbidden the culture ministry says.

For publishers who dare take the risk of publishing a few copies - for the sake of channelling valuable lessons - they are likely to face fierce opposition. The stigma around the book is such that in a country formed after the Holocaust inspired by Hitler's writings, fear of anti-Semitism is stronger than digging up history.

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