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Friday, February 5, 2010

Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' to be republished in Germany

Adolf Hitler's autobiography "Mein Kampf" is to be republished in Germany in 2015 for the first time since being banned under the country's constitution at the end of the Second World War.

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Under the post-1945 German constitution, the dissemination of Nazi philosophy has been a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment.

But 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.

On Thursday 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.

The finance ministry in Bavaria said it had still not decided whether to give its permission but it is understood that with the lapse in copyright, the IfZ will not need the green light from it. "Besides, 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," said the IfZ.

Jewish leaders in Germany have already pledged their support for the project, saying they 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".

The IfZ wants the agreement of the finance ministry in Bavaria before the 2015 deadline so as to begin work on the project right away.

Mein Kampf became a better seller than the Bible in the Third Reich.

Hitler became a multi-millionaire through royalties while newspapers around the world, including some in the UK, serialised his work.

It was written when he was sentenced to five years in jail for attempting to overthrow the government in 1924. It is filled with the prejudices and hatreds of an uneducated man and within its pages are endless rants against the Jews, who he would soon attempt to eliminate altogether.

In another passage he foretells his plans for the conquest of Russia, writing: "We must eliminate the disproportion between our population and our area...... Some of this land can be obtained from Russia. We must secure for the German people the land and soil to which they are entitled."

Over 12 million copies were sold in Nazi Germany. Recently an edition of the book became a best seller in Turkey.