Germany sees sales of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf hit record highs in first days of 2017

  • By Sahila Habib

Mein Kampf sales hit worryingly high record levels in first days of 2017

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Reprinting the anti-Semitic book outlining Hitler’s global visions was banned after WW2 by Bavaria’s regional government, which held the copyright.

The copyright however expired as of New Year’s day 2016, and Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History was the first to publish a new edition.

Publishers all over the world took to reprinting the book which is now out of copyright and considered opensource or public property.

One German publisher of an annotated edition of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf says sales have soared since its launch one year ago.

About 85’000 German-language copies of the anti-Semitic Nazi manifesto have been sold by the company. Publisher Andreas Wirsching said “the figures overwhelmed us”.

Wirsching is the director of The Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich.

At the end of January 2017 the IfZ will be forced to launch a sixth print run due to extremely high demand. The book contains critical annotations by scholars.

Unlike the Nazi-era editions, the IfZ’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) has a plain white cover without a picture of Hitler. The swastika and other Nazi symbols are banned in all forms in Germany.

Wirsching told the German news agency DPA that the IfZ was planning a shorter, French-language edition. “But two-thirds of our commentaries will be translated” for it, he said.

The first German language print run in Germany in 2016 was just 4’000 copies, an underestimation of epic proportions.

The decision to republish the inflammatory book was criticised by many Jewish groups and peace protesters. Mein Kampf was originally printed in 1925, eight years before Hitler came to power.

It sets out racist ideas that the Nazis put into practice later, including the denigration and oppression of Jews, Gyspies, Balkans and Slavs.

After Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, the Allied forces handed the copyright to the state of Bavaria. Under German Federal Law copyright lasts for 70 years.

Whilest the Bavarian regional government held the copyright, reprinting of the book was banned. But the copyright expired one year and 3 days ago.

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Wirsching said he favoured “clever” teachers using the IfZ edition in the classroom. He warned against “repeating the absurd 1950s discussion, when people said ‘it was all Hitler’s fault’.”

Wirsching added the IfZ had obtained solid legal advice before republishing the book on a limited scale. The scholarly edition was aimed partly at pre-empting any editions put out by Nazi sympathisers.

“It would be irresponsible to just let this text spread arbitrarily.”

Whilst there are publishers out there such as Wirsching, who are trying to use Mein Kampf as a leading example of what NOT to do. Educate the younger generations about the dangers of such beliefs and views and to use the book to teach people how to be more tolerant and accepting. There are of course many with opposing ambitions.

The world at large saw a dramatic and dangerous rise in right wing politics in 2016 with  a large number of right wing leaders and politicians elected. 2016 also saw record breaking levels of violence against ethnic and religious minorities across Europe and the UK.

Many worry that the ever increasing acceleration of Mein Kampf sales particularly in right wing countries is yard stick of the current political zeitgeist.

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