MEIN KAMPF BACK IN GER­MANY

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY IGAL AVI­DAN

THE ACA­DEMICS lead­ing the project to pub­lish the first edi­tion of Mein Kampf in Ger­man since the end of the Sec­ond World War have ar­gued that their version will be an “an­ti­dote” to the hate-filled orig­i­nal.

Chris­tian Hart­mann, one of four his­to­ri­ans who worked full-time for three years to cre­ate a fully annotated edi­tion of Adolf Hitler’s man­i­festo for pub­li­ca­tion on Jan­uary 8, said that the book would be the “anti- Mein Kampf”.

On De­cem­ber 31, the copyright on the book, held by the Bavar­ian fi­nance min­istry since 1945, ex­pired. In prepa­ra­tion, the state of Bavaria com­mis- sioned the Mu­nich-based In­sti­tut für Zeit­geschichte (IfZ) to cre­ate a version that re­buts and dis­sects the orig­i­nal.

IfZ di­rec­tor Andreas Wirsching ex­plained in an ad­dress to the For­eign Cor­re­spon­dents So­ci­ety in Berlin: “It would be ir­re­spon­si­ble to al­low Hitler’s book, which from 2016 will be in the pub­lic do­main, to cir­cu­late un­com­mented through the Ger­man me­dia.

“Our crit­i­cal edi­tion con­fronts Hitler’s lies through counter-state­ment and in foot­notes. It de­stroys the myth around the book by ex­pos­ing the fa­tal re­sults of Hitler’s racist pro­pa­ganda, for ex­am­ple in the no­to­ri­ous Nurem­berg Laws.”

Both Mr Wirsching and Mr Hart­mann agree that the new edi­tion is nec­es­sary “as an an­ti­dote” given the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the far-right in Ger­many.

Hitler wrote Mein Kampf as a heroic epic for his fol­low­ers af­ter his failed coup in 1923. In it he de­scribes his — partly faked — back­ground as a sol­dier and rev­o­lu­tion­ary, and urges a war against the en­e­mies of the “su­pe­rior” Ger­mans — the Marx­ists and the Jews, whom he de­scribes as “the calamity of the world”.

Un­til its pub­li­ca­tion was out­lawed in 1945, the book sold 12 mil­lion copies world­wide.

Mr Wirsching said Ger­many in­tended to main­tain its ban on pub­li­ca­tion of the orig­i­nal, adding that: “The Ger­man democ­racy is stable enough to ac­cept our crit­i­cal edi­tion.”

Yad Vashem has ex­pressed sup­port for the new edi­tion, said Mr Wirsching, but added that some Holo­caust sur­vivors re­ject it “be­cause Mein Kampf is a sym­bol and it will be pub­lished in Ger­many, the coun­try of the per­pe­tra­tors”.

He stressed, how­ever, that the book was avail­able on the in­ter­net and in sec­ond-hand book­shops any­way, “so we want to con­front it as in­ten­sively as pos­si­ble, which is what the Shoah vic­tims would have wished”.

In 2012, Ger­man his­to­ri­ans dis­cussed the plan to cre­ate the annotated edi­tion with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions, and most Jewish and Is­raeli his­to­ri­ans backed the project.

Some 250 copies have been or­dered; the IfZ said that any prof­its would be do­nated to ap­pro­pri­ate char­i­ties.

Mr Wirsching said he wel­comed trans­la­tions and added that the IfZ plans to pro­duce an on­line edi­tion for 2017.

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