Mein Kampf, perhaps the most controversial book ever printed, is available for sale in Germany for the first time since World War Two (WWII).
The copyright for Adolf Hitler’s pre-Nazi manifesto , held by the state of Bavaria, expired the beginning of this year. Under German copyright law, a book automatically goes into the public domain at the start of the new year, 70 years after the author’s death. The Bavarian government banned reprinting the book out of respect for the victims of Nazi ideology.
Academics support the reprinting by the Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History, saying it will help people understand and avoid the horrific mistakes that were made as a result of the first printing. The new edition includes a contemporary commentary and analysis, and also counter-arguments, hopefully convincing, to Hitler’s theories.
Clearly anti-Semitic, the book was written in 1923 and outlined Hitler’s plans for the “Final Solution” to exterminate the Jewish people because of the “Jewish peril”, a Jewish conspiracy to gain world domination. In several sections, he clearly alludes to genocidal intentions targeting the Jews. He also outlines his plan for national expansion, which ultimately led to the war which left Europe in ruins and led to the deaths of over 80 million people.
Jewish groups have expressed outrage over the reappearance of the book, though resistance is also coming from an unexpected source. Many Germans are concerned that the book may awaken xenophobic hatred for the thousands of Syrian immigrants Germany is absorbing now.
Approximately 240,000 copies were sold in Germany before Hitler’s rise to power, another 5.2 million copies being sold in 11 languages by the outbreak of war. By the end of the war, 10 million copies had been sold or distributed in Germany, with a free copy being given as a gift to ever newlywed couple and soldier fighting on the front-line.
The book has been printed in the United States since the outbreak of WW II, when the government enacted the Trading With the Enemy Act , seizing profits from the book. As of 1979, the US government received almost $140,000 from book sales, at which time the rights were purchased by Houghton Miffin for $37,254. They have earned an estimated $700,000 from the book since.
There are currently six e-book versions available for sale. In 2014, two of these reached the 12th and 15th spots on the iTunes Politics and Current Events section. Also that year, a digital version reached number one on the Amazon Propaganda and Political Psychology chart.
Some European nations, including Austria and the Netherlands, are continuing the ban, but France will also be printing an edition. Since the war ended, the book has been popular in India, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States.