While in jail for treason in 1924, Adolf Hitler wrote his infamous manifesto, Mein Kampf, which translates to My Struggle. Hitler was imprisoned for nine months for his role in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch revolt in trying to overthrow the German government in 1923.
Now after 70 years, Mein Kampf has been reissued in Germany for the first time since Hitler’s death, with scholarly annotations, and publishers are having a difficult time keeping up with the demand for the book. Business Insider reports 4,000 copies were initially printed, but there were 15,000 advance orders. According to the Independent, one bookstore in Berlin sold out of copies by noon on its first day of sale.
Partially auto-biographical, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf to outline his belief that there was a widespread Jewish conspiracy and laid out his hatred for the Jewish and Slavic people. Mein Kampf is widely regarded as the blueprint for his “genocidal regime” and the Nazi party’s main propaganda tool.
The state of Bavaria, which held the rights to Mein Kampf for 70 years since the end of World War II, refused to allow reprints of the manifesto. According to German law, copyrights only last for 70 years after the owner’s death. The copyright expired on January 1, and Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History released an annotated 2,000-page edition with more than 3,500 notes. Scholars have worked on the text for three years.
During a news conference, the Institute said there have been requests for Mein Kampf to be translated into Italian, French and English, and demand has come from Turkey, China, South Korea, and Poland.
When Hitler was alive and Mein Kampf was first released, the book initially didn’t sell very well, according to Dr. Pascal Trees, a research associate at Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History.
“They sold so-so,” Dr. Trees said. “To be perfectly frank, it’s not a good read.”
The Nazi party wanted to boost sales, so they produced a “newer, more straightforward” edition. Every married couple in Germany was presented with a copy of Mein Kampf, bought and given by the state. The book became a bestseller in Germany in the 1930s. By the time World War II ended, 12 million copies had been sold.
The new edition’s reissue has stirred up much debate in Germany, a country that still struggles to distance itself from its Nazi past.
A brief history of the extremely controversial Mein Kampf as it gets republished https://t.co/JIK223gdPE
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 10, 2016
As the Inquisitr previously reported, reactions to the reissuing of Mein Kampf have varied greatly. Some believe the book should have remained banned altogether while others believe it’s important to study to avoid making the same grave mistakes. Those who believe it should be studied critically have hope that it will eradicate hatred of the Jewish people.
Some German Jewish community leaders who believe the book should remain banned have described the book as “anti-Semitic diatribe.” Charlotte Knobloch, leader of the Jewish community in Munich, said it would be difficult for her to see the book in store windows.
The Central Council of Jews, Germany’s main Jewish group, said they have no objection to the new annotated edition, but also believe Mein Kampf shouldn’t be published without annotations.
Josef Schuster, the council’s president, said he hopes the new annotated edition will “contribute to debunking Hitler’s inhuman ideology and counteracting anti-Semitism.”
Amid the debate, the Institute of Modern History said the publication of Mein Kampf will “unmask Hitler’s false allegations, his whitewashing and outright lies.”
Dr. Christian Hartmann, the leader of the academic team which created the new edition, reiterated the lies within Mein Kampf are challenged.
“It was important to us to reach many people so we have tried to create a very reader friendly edition. We firmly connect Hitler’s text with our comments, so that both are always on the same double page. I could describe it in martial terms as a battle of annihilation — we are encircling Hitler with our annotations.”
Do you think Mein Kampf should be banned again or studied critically?
[Image credited to Johannes Simon/Getty Images]