The reissue of Mein Kampf divides Germany

mein-kampf-francais-mon-combatShould we allow the republication of Mein Kampf? The question being debated in Germany while the rights of the antisemitic pamphlet fall into the public domain on 1 January 2016, 70 years after the death of Adolf Hitler.

The publication in the rough of the burning manifesto, which sets out the ideological foundations of the Nazi political program and theorizes the desire to eliminate the Jews, remain prohibited under a decision of the German regional ministers of Justice to prevent the criminal law any “incitement to hatred” and of respect for the victims of Nazism.

However, the end of the protection of rights for the first time makes it possible in the country the publication of a commented version by historians.

This is precisely the controversial project that leads the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich (IFZ): a critical edition of Mein Kampf, due out in German bookstores in January 2016. A similar project is underway in France, where the issue also raises controversy.

“This debate is really committed this year while the rights soon fall into the public domain,” says Barbara Zehnpfennig, totalitarianism specialist at the University of Passau (South), which stressed that the discussion raises “many fears” .

The annotated version to which researchers from the IFZ working since 2009, and which will for the first time since 1945 the original text available to the German public, seeks to “deconstruct and put into context the writings of Hitler: how his theses were born? What goals did he have? (…) And above all: what can we oppose today with our knowledge to countless assertions, lies and declarations of intent of Hitler “justified the institute?.

Turnaround Bavaria

Mein Kampf (in French “My Struggle”) was written in 1924 by Adolf Hitler in jail after his failed coup in Munich. The purchase, sale or possession of old original editions of the book, of which about 12.4 million copies in German were broadcast until 1945, is not prohibited in Germany.

This is in Bavaria where he had his second home that the “Führer” legally left before his death in 1945 all his property. The region received the American military government at the end of World War II the rights to the book with the mission to prevent the spread of Nazi ideology.

Today Bavaria remains very hesitant to face the programmed output of suddenly commented version. She had begun by supporting the project, granting it a financing 500 000 euros (about $ 732,000 at today’s rate) in 2012, before returning to his decision in late 2013 not to offend the victims.

“I can not ask the prohibition of NPD (German far-right party) and as a result pay the state’s coat of arms for the dissemination of Mein Kampf, had stated the Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofeer.

For the journalist Sven Felix Kellerhoff, author of a book on the history of Mein Kampf, the authorities’ refusal to allow the publication date of a commented version helped “mythify” the firebrand. “It is absolutely necessary that serious annotated version of Mein Kampf is put to the public” for educational purposes, he said.

“It is very important that we look thoroughly Hitler and his world,” political scientist Barbara abounds Zehnpfennig, which calls for Mein Kampf can also be read in its uncommented vision.

“We are all adults and we practiced democracy for 70 years, I think we can bear to read such a book,” she considers.

“Pandora’s box”

The far-right sympathizers “are very little to really know the slice does, it’s not because of what book they are extreme right.”

“The book is dangerous. It’s a Pandora’s box, “said for his part told AFP Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish community in Munich. In his eyes even a critical release contains danger of hate, “because it contains the original text” that he does “should be printed.”

“We have recently been able to see how the potential of anti-Jewish hatred, racism and xenophobia is important in our society, also in Germany,” she warns.

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