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10 Aug, 2009 15:23

German Jews struggle to republish “Mein Kampf”

German Jews struggle to republish “Mein Kampf”

Germany’s central council of Jews has made an unprecedented decision to back the republication of Adolf Hitler’s infamous autobiographical “Mein Kampf”, which served as the manifesto for the Nazi party.

Munich's Institute for Contemporary History applied for permission to reprint the work after the Bavarian government’s rights to the book expire.

It aims to produce an edition containing scholarly footnotes challenging most of Hitler's assertions.

"A scientific edition would help to dispel the peculiar myths surrounding this book," said Horst Möller, the institute's director.

The internet is also one of the reasons for the new stance taken by Germany's Central Council of Jews:

"It is all the more important that young people should see the critical version when they click on to Mein Kampf on the web," Kramer said.

Although many Jews are still opposed to the publication of Hitler’s highly anti-Semitic work, Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the country’s council of Jews supports the new annotated edition.

As The Independent, a British daily, reports, Kramer thinks a republication will warn future generations of the evils of Nazism.

"It makes sense and is important to publish an edition of “Mein Kampf” with an academic commentary," Kramer told The Independent.

"A historically critical edition needs to be prepared today to prevent neo-Nazis profiting from it."

However, the decision is undermined by the fact that the southern German state of Bavaria, which currently holds the rights to the book, remains strongly opposed to the idea of a republication.

“We won't lift the ban as it may play straight into the hands of the far right," said a spokesman for the Bavarian government.

"Prohibition is highly regarded by Jewish groups and we mean to keep it that way".

In addition to the Bavarian government, some German academics are against the republication. The historian Jürgen Faulenbach, for example, thinks that the book does little to shed light on the Nazi era and is therefore all but pointless as a historical source.

“The book does not provide any important answers to questions about how the Nazi regime was possible," he told The Independent.

"It only contains the polarising views of the author. To lift a 60 year old ban on “Mein Kampf” would be problematic."

Bavaria’s rights to the book are, nonetheless, due to expire in 2015 and the country’s courts are to determine whether laws prohibiting the distribution of Nazi propaganda will still concern the book.

The book, which Hitler wrote in prison after the failed power takeover in 1923, has been banned in Germany ever since the end of the Second World War.

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