Hitler Back in Print: Bavaria Plans New Edition of 'Mein Kampf'

The copyright on Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" expires in 2015, after which anyone will be free to republish the infamous tome. Amid fears that neo-Nazis could exploit the text's new availability, the Bavarian government, which holds the copyright, is planning to bring out its own annotated version. An English version and an audio book are also planned.

Coming to a bookstore near you soon. Zoom
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Coming to a bookstore near you soon.

The southern German state of Bavaria, which holds the copyright to Adolf Hitler's polemic "Mein Kampf," hasn't allowed the book to be published in Germany since the end of World War II. But the copyright expires in 2015, and there are concerns that neo-Nazis might immediately begin disseminating the work once Bavaria can no longer prevent its publication.

But now Bavaria has announced it will take its own steps to limit the damage the book might cause. Bavarian science minister Wolfgang Heubisch announced on Monday that the state would publish an annotated version of the book. By including commentaries on the text debunking Hitler's arguments, the state government hopes that readers will not be seduced by the Nazi leader's propaganda.

The state is also planning a version for schools, with notes that are easy for young people to understand. "The expiration of the copyright in three years' time could lead to more young people reading 'Mein Kampf'," Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder said on Tuesday, announcing the decision to publish a school version. Hitler's book still had something "mystical" attached to it, he said, explaining its attraction to young people. The notes on the text would outline "the global catastrophe that this dangerous way of thinking led to," Söder said.

Bavaria is also planning to publish an English version of "Mein Kampf," as well as an e-book and an audio book.

Opting for the Academic Version

Karl Freller, director of a Bavarian foundation that administers the memorials at the former Nazi concentration camps Dachau and Flossenbürg, said the state would talk to publishing houses and bookstores about the project. "We are relying on them to voluntarily refrain from selling or printing 'Mein Kampf' and choosing to offer the new academic edition instead," Freller said.

In 1945, the copyright fell into the hands of the Bavaria government when the state took over the rights of the main Nazi party publishing house Eher-Verlag as part of the Allies' de-Nazification program. Out of fears that the book could promote neo-Nazis, the Bavarian Finance Ministry, which controls the copyright, has not allowed "Mein Kampf" to be published in Germany since then, although the book is not officially banned. Several foreign language editions have appeared in the meantime.

There is considerable interest in what will happen when the copyright expires in 2015, some 70 years after Hitler's death. In 2010, historians from the Munich Institute of Contemporary History announced they were already working on an annotated version which they hoped to publish when the copyright expired, or even before.

dgs -- with wire reports

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1. Copyright possibly invalid
Inglenda2 04/24/2012
I well remember seeing an English version of Hitler's book 'Mein Kampf' during the 1950s. It is therefore more than questionable as to whether the Bavarian claim to copyright has any real legal substance. I understand this right was given to Bavaria by American army authorities in south Germany following WW2. The question to be answered here is, with what legal manner the USA obtained this copyright themselves. It might be remembered that the armed forces of the USA were not well known for honesty. The large number of old German works of art, which are now in the procession of some prominent personalities in America, would rather point to an misappropriation of such attributes, rather than to a legitimate ownership
2. Hitler's words are good. The annotations are the poison.
jenab6 03/23/2013
Really, are people so stupid that they must have some "expert" explain to them why Adolf Hitler's ideas are wrong? Is it necessary for each of his books to be prefaced with 25, 35, or 45 pages of annotations that try to show why Hitler's actions, and not the actions of Germany's enemies during the war, are to blame for decades of German misery? It seems to me that the only flaw in Hitler's ideas is that he lacked the strength to implement them against the opposition of the entire world. If Germany had won that war, the world would have been spared the miserable economic calamity that the banking system will soon bring the the entire world. Hitler opposed that banking system and antagonized its powers, and that is what actually led to the world war. If Germany had won that war, the cultural degeneration that has despoiled almost every country in Europe, as well as America and the UK, would never have happened. Even though it suffered defeat, Germany should be proud, because it was the only country which was doing politics correctly. And the reason for all the misleading annotations of Hitler's books is that Hitler's writing, even in translation, is the epitome of common sense. Hitler is one of those writers who can say the most intelligent things in a way so simple that you wonder why you didn't think of it yourself. He expresses the same truths that you learn in biology classes in school, but he connects those truths with politics in a way that the powers of our world have declared to be forbidden. And that's why all the publishers put in their prefaces and their long introductions: they hope to wear out the patience of the reader before he can reach any of the words that Hitler wrote, and, for the fractions of the readers who will persist, to instill a bias that will, they hope, prevent Hitler's ideas from having a fair hearing.
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