Mein Kampf, the manifesto of former Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, has experienced a long layoff in the country of Germany, where he wrecked so much havoc in the events leading up to and during World War II.
The absence of this book has been almost understandable considering that Hitler has been credited with an ideology that claimed the lives of millions, and pushed the world to the brink of an early destruction.
According to CNN’s Ben Brumfield, the German republication of the book is being spearheaded by the Institute for Contemporary History, which will be reprinting and selling the book “for 59 euros ($63) a copy, starting next week,” he writes in a New Year’s Day story.
Mein Kampf will be available due to the copyright expiration, which occurred on Dec. 31, 2015, and it will not be appearing in its original form, but in a heavily annotated version that presents both the original text and observations to expose the “lies, half-truths and vicious tirades,” the Institute stated in a release.
Some believe that the republication of Mein Kampf is really testing the limits of what should be allowed under the tenets of free speech, but the Institute has made it clear there will be a distinction in the presentation.
“There is hardly any book that is more overladen with such a multitude of myths, that awakens such disgust and anxiety, that ignites curiosity and stirs speculation, while simultaneously exuding an aura of the mysterious and forbidden,” the Institute’s statement continued.
Even so, some are pointing out that those rants were responsible for pushing an entire nation toward Genocide. Given the disharmonies in the U.S. between different classes today, it may be shortsighted for this book to take front-and-center on the world stage yet again, but ultimately this could be a good thing.
Hitler’s regime was all about suppression. From 1941 to 1945, they hunted down anyone of Jewish descent and placed them into concentration camps, which along with mass killings, would account for the deaths of 6 million. An additional 5 million non-Jewish deaths have also been attributed to the Nazis, according to the Columbia University Guide to the Holocaust.
Until Russian forces overran Hitler’s regime and prompted the dictator to take his own life, the general rule in Nazi-occupied territories was that if you were different, it was your lot in life to be wiped out. It’s a significant and still-raw reminder of the dangers of free speech suppression, regardless of whether it’s speech that you agree with.
Mein Kampf reappearing in Germany next week is a significant and symbolic reminder to never let another figurehead — on either side of the political spectrum — have that much control over what people say and think.
Keeping the book out of German territory for the 70 years following Hitler’s death actually played into the sort of thinking he was all about, and the Institute’s choice to combat the speech found therein with counterpoints is the correct approach for reintroducing these ideas.
But ultimately, the ideas do need to be reintroduced because failure to do so only motivates the holders of these ideologies, helping them to draft others to their cause. Whenever you want to show the world how crazy or dangerous ideas are, the best thing to do is hold a mirror up to it.
But what do you think, readers? Should Mein Kampf be available in Germany or anywhere else for that matter? And do you think the point-counterpoint approach to publication is the right one? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]