February 8, 2010

Hitler’s back in print


Germany‘s constitution has made it illegal to disseminate Nazi propaganda since the end of World War II, but now it looks as if the book that sold so well it made author Adolf Hitler a multi-millionaire, Mein Kamf, is heading back to print in just a few years.

As a Daily Telegraph report by Allan Hall explains, “the copyright, held by the state of Bavaria where the Nazi movement began life in the 1920s, expires in 2015, 70 years after the death of its author in his Berlin bunker.”

Hall does not explain why the copyright running out suddenly makes it legal to publish the book, but he does go on to report that “the Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) pledged to publish an ‘annotated version’ with historical notes that it hopes will see the book used in schools and colleges.” And ifZ spokesperson tells the paper, “we think our version, with sensible notes and comments pointing out the falsity of much of what he wrote, will be far better than neo-Nazis putting out their own versions.”

What’s more, German Jewish leaders are supporting the publication. Hall runs an unattributed quote say “they” — presumably Jewish leaders –believe it “would prevent neo-Nazi from profiteering from Mein Kampf, while an aggressive and enlightening engagement with the book would doubtless remove many of its false, persisting myths.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives