'One of Best Relics of the Third Reich' Returns to Germany

2-volume 'Mein Kampf' edition with 3,500 annotations meant to 'shatter the myth'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2015 8:00 AM CST
'One of Best Relics of the Third Reich' Returns to Germany
Adolf Hitler's infamous memoir "Mein Kampf" is presented during a news conference in Nuremberg, southern Germany, on April 24, 2012.   (AP Photo/dapd, Lennart Preiss)

An attempt to put Adolf Hitler's most famous written rants in context will be on the market in January, thanks to a three-year effort by a group of Munich historians. Ending a 70-year ban on publishing Mein Kampf in German, the team from the Institute for Contemporary History will be releasing a two-volume, 2,000-page edition of the work, with an enhanced layout that features Hitler's original text on one side of each two-page spread, and editorial annotations (around 3,500 in total) on the other, the New York Times reports. "We wanted literally to surround Hitler with our comments," Christian Hartmann, the project's leader, tells the paper, while ICH director Andreas Wirsching notes to the BBC that republishing the book will "shatter the myth" surrounding it. Mein Kampf was banned by the Allies at the end of WWII, and the copyright was handed over to the state of Bavaria, which has denied others republishing rights since out of respect for Holocaust victims and to avoid incitement, per the Guardian.

But that copyright expires on Dec. 31, meaning the book is now fair game for republishing once again. "This is really one of the best relics we have of the Third Reich," Hartmann tells the Times. Not everyone agrees with the redo: An 83-year-old Jewish leader in Munich labels Mein Kampf a "disgusting incitement to hatred and the basis of the Holocaust" and says it should warrant no further discussions, her spokesman tells the Times. More than 200 preorders have been placed for the $63 book, though Hartmann notes he has no clue how well the first run of nearly 4,000 copies will ultimately sell: He previously worked on a book about Hitler's 1920s-'30s speeches, and "the public interest was almost zero," he tells the Times. (In other Hitler-book news, an author claims Nazi soldiers were high on crystal meth.)

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