BERLIN - Excerpts of Hitler‘s "Mein Kampf," which were set to be sold in newsstands across Germany for the first time since the end of World War II, have been pulled at the 11th hour after legal threats by the state of Bavaria, which owns the book's copyright.
British publisher Peter McGee had planned on Thursday to release parts of the still taboo book in a series of 15-page, German-language inserts with the historical magazine Zeitungszeugen, along with accompanying commentary. But Mcgee said Wednesday he would publish just the commentary after legal pressure from the Bavarian Ministry of Finance, which, since the late 1940s, has held the rights to Hitler’s writings and those of other Nazi leaders like Joseph Goebbels.
Bavaria also holds the rights to works published by Franz Eher Nachfolger, the Nazi party’s publisher, after U.S. occupation forces passed on to the Ministry the task of ensuring that Nazi propaganda was not disseminated in Germany. It is still illegal in Germany to spread Nazi ideology, or display swastikas or make the stiff-armed Nazi salute.
Several generations of legal experts at the Ministry have been on the case ever since, but their job has recently seemed less relevant. Because what was appropriate in the 1950s and 1960s has become, especially since the upswing in research on the Nazis that started in the 1970s, little more than an irritation. In fact, with its blind determination to carry out its task, the Ministry has been responsible for Hitler’s pamphlet, a badly written and confused tract, acquiring the mystique of a “forbidden book.”
Still Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors had expressed outrage at McGee's plans for widespread sale of the excerpts, which he said was aimed at demystifying the crude text. There are already two books on the German market, by Werner Maser and Christian Zentner respectively, containing excerpts of “Mein Kampf” with commentary. The Zentner book is in its 21st edition.
Meanwhile, the entire text of "Mein Kampf" is actually freely available – without commentary, since it’s usually to be found on extremist right-wing sites – on the Internet. What is missing is a comprehensive edition for academics, and a complete edition with commentary aimed at the wider public. Germany’s Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ), one of the most respected institutions in the world for its research into the Nazi era, is preparing a philological edition of “Mein Kampf” for late 2015 when all copyrights expire.
Read the full story in German by Sven Felix Kellerhoff
Photo – dccarbone
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations