The republication of portions of Adolf Hitler‘s “Mein Kampf,” a proposed plan now on hold, has pitched historians, Holocaust groups, and the German state of Bavaria into a tense debate about confronting Germany‘s darkest chapter.
Will a German magazine’s attempt to republish excerpts of the anti-Semitic manifesto propagate hate and inspire neo-Nazi groups? Or will it deflate the aura that surrounds the restricted work and expose it as a confused, rambling screed?
Peter McGee was counting on the latter. The British publisher had planned to run three 16-page segments of “Mein Kampf” as pamphlets inserted into issues of German magazine “Zeitungszeugen” starting next week. Critical commentary of the text was to accompany the excerpts. As of midday Wednesday, however, the plan was put on hold under threat of legal action from the state of Bavaria.
“It’s long overdue that a broad public should get the opportunity to deal with the original text,” McGee had told German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.
“It will be the first time “Mein Kampf” has been published in Germany since the end of World War II,”wrote the Washington Post’s Political Bookworm blog, before the plan was suspended.
Holocaust groups, not surprisingly, were infuriated by the proposed publication.
“Holocaust survivors are appalled at the insensitivity and crass commercialism that would motivate the publication of Hitler’s hate-filled book in the historic cradle of the Nazi terror regime,” Elan Steinberg of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, told AFP.
“The mercenary effort to publish this infamous work in Germany is not only a moral offence to the memory of all Nazi victims — Jew and non-Jew — but is also an insult to modern-day Germany which has mightily struggled to separate itself from its dark past.”
Steinberg, along with other Holocaust groups, called on the Bavarian state government, which holds the rights to “Mein Kampf,” to take legal action to block its republication, and it seems officials listened. Bavaria said the magazine’s plans to republish portions of the book violated copyright laws. As of Wednesday evening, McGee said he still plans to run the critical commentary, but plans to republish portions of “Mein Kampf” are postponed as he seeks “legal clarity,” reported the Washington Post.
Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” — “My Struggle” in English — while he was languishing in a Bavarian prison after the failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. The rambling and anti-Semitic manifesto-cum-autobiography outlined his ideology, including his views on Aryan racial purity and his hatred of Jews and opposition to Communism. Following World War II, the Allies gave the rights to “Mein Kampf” to the Bavarian state government.
“‘Mein Kampf,’ is not banned in Germany as commonly believed,” writes the AP, “but Bavaria has used its ownership of the copyright to prevent its publication so far.”