Hitler’s 'Mein Kampf' Okayed for use in classrooms by Germany's education minister
Germany's federal education minister has called for nationwide use of Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' in the classroom. It comes just before a critical version of the book is due to be reprinted for the first time since Hitler's death, sparking fierce debate.
Referencing the critical edition of the book, scheduled to be published by Munich's Institute for Contemporary History in January, Johanna Wanka told Passauer Neuen Presse that it is “aimed at promoting political education and is easily comprehensible.”
Wanka said that Hitler's statements will not go “uncontradicted,” adding that “students have questions, and it is right that they can get rid of these in the classroom and talk about the issue.”
The critical edition, the result of three years of labor by scholars, will include explanatory sections and some 3,500 annotations. The printing of the 2,000-page, two-volume work is possible due to the expiration of a 70-year copyright on the text, which will take place on New Year's Day.
Wanka's support for the critical edition to be used in schools follows a similar call from the German Teachers’ Association, which said earlier this week that the book would “inoculate adolescents against political extremism.”
The president of the association, Josef Kraus, told Handelsblatt newspaper that the text can easily be found on the internet, and it is better for students to learn from “savvy history and politics teachers.”
However, despite being critical of Hitler's ideology, the new version of 'Mein Kampf' has been met with opposition from those who say the book is blatantly racist and anything but an educational tool.
Jewish groups have expressed divided opinion on the reprinting.
“Knowledge of Mein Kampf is still important to explain National Socialism and the Holocaust,” said Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Charlotte Knoblock, chairperson of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, said “this deeply anti-Semitic diatribe of all texts does not belong in the classroom.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partners, the Social Democrats, have supported the call for the book to be taught in schools.
“Mein Kampf is a terrible and monstrous book. It is appropriate as part of a modern education for a qualified teachers to unmask the history of this anti-Semitic inhuman pamphlet and explaining the propaganda mechanism behind it,” said Ernst Dieter Rossmann, the party’s education spokesman, as quoted by the Telegraph.
'Mein Kampf,' translated in English as 'My Struggle,' contains Hitler's thoughts on various topics, including eugenics, race theory, syphillis, and movies.
Although the book has never been officially banned in Germany, its publication in the original format has been prevented since 1945 by the state of Bavaria, which owns the copyright.