‘Mein Kampf’ Reprint: Hitler’s Propaganda Bestseller Sells Out Amidst Mixed Reactions

Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler’s bestseller which outlines his ideology and formed the basis for Nazi Germany, was republished and released to bookstores on Friday.

This is the first time since the Second World War that the book, the Nazi leader’s propaganda inflammatory racist tract, is being reprinted and published in Germany.

During 70 years since the end of the war, the book had been banned out of respect for victims and to prevent the hateful opinions displayed in Mein Kampf to spread in Europe.

With its copyright expiring on January 1, 70 years after it was originally handed to the German state of Bavaria by the Allies at the end of the war, German researchers were able to produce this newly-edited version of the book.

Mein Kampf, Eine kritische Edition — “a critical edition” — is a heavily-annotated copy produced by the Institute of Contemporary History of Munich (IFZ), which researchers have been working on since 2009. They argue it is important to demystify those words and to “deconstruct and put into context Hitler’s writing.”

The new release produced mixed reactions, with some believing that, at a time when racism and xenophobia are on the rise in Europe, the republication of Mein Kampf could inflame already growing sentiments of religious hatred.

After being banned in the country that suffered at the hands of the Nazi leader for years leading up to and during the Second World War, it is very hard for many to imagine that Mein Kampf has its place on the country’s bookshelves.

The editorial team behind the project insists their production is important to understand Hitler and his ideas for what they were, the lies and assertions he based his politics on, and to present the counterarguments we have today.

The newly-edited version of Mein Kampf was received critically in Germany.
Launch of the new critical edition of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" at the Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte (Institute for Contemporary History)on January 8, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (Image via Getty Images/Johannes Simon)

Editorial team leader Christian Hartmann says it is important to show the wider public how “aggressive the hate sermon” was. The release of Mein Kampf was supported by Education Minister Johanna Wanka, who said all classrooms should read the new edition to ensure that “Hitler’s comments do not remain unchallenged.”

Divided Opinions

Many in the Jewish community, however, believe there is no need to propagate the incendiary text again. One of the main ideas of Mein Kampf is Hitler’s hatred of Jews, which led to the Holocaust and made more than six million victims in concentration camps and another 11 million during the war.

The President of the Germany’s Jewish Council, Josef Schuster, told broadcaster NDR the new publication would help to “undo the myth of this book” and show how “completely wrong and ridiculous Hitler’s theories and theses were.” Many agree banning the book has only led to more interest and mysticism.

Other figures of the Jewish community, such Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, who told AFP that “Holocausts survivors [would] be offended by the sale of the anti-Semitic work.”

The Berliner Zeitung newspaper said it was important Mein Kampf was available today to serve as an “arsenal” against anti-Semitism. Tagesspiegel said the reprint was a historical documentation of the Nazi atrocities, which will serve when “witnesses, victims or perpetrators are no longer around.”

Although many are anxious about the impact the release of the book could have, it is important to know that Mein Kampf was already available in more languages and countries than ever before. It is also believed keeping the book silent would be more dangerous than having open discussions about it, especially within German classrooms. The book, written by Hitler between 1924 and 1926, posits a global Jewish conspiracy and had sold around 12.4 million copies by the end of the Second World War in 1945.

Following the end of the war, Mein Kampf was banned, and millions of copies were destroyed in postwar Germany by the Allies, including the United States, alongside all Nazi and militarist propaganda.

"Mein Kampf" Critical Edition Book Presentation
Copies of the new critical edition of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" are displayed after the book launch at the Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte (Institute for Contemporary History) on January 8, 2016 in Munich, Germany.

Out in bookstores on Friday, demand for the new edition of Mein Kampf exceeded its publisher’s expectations. The first print run was for 4,000 copies but they have already received 15,000 orders as well as translations into Italian, French, and English.

January 1, 2016, also marked the date when copyright of Anne Frank’s diary expired, and an academic and a French MP have pushed ahead with plans to publish the book online. According to European copyright law, a book becomes public domain on the first day of January, 70 years after its author’s death.

The organization holding the publication rights, Anne Frank Fonds, which was set up by Anne’s father Otto Frank in 1963, has been fighting the plans to publish online. They argue the many additions made by Otto on the widely published version of the diary had “earned his own copyright.”

[Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images]