By Michael Faulhaber and Geir Moulson , AP
MUNICH–An annotated edition of “Mein Kampf,” the first version of Adolf Hitler’s notorious manifesto to be published in Germany since the end of World War II, went on sale Friday — a volume that many hope will help demystify the book and debunk the Nazi leader’s writing.
The Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History has worked for several years on the plain-covered volume, officially titled “Hitler, Mein Kampf: A Critical Edition.” It launched the book days after the copyright of the German-language original expired at the end of 2015 — 70 years after Hitler’s death.
Over the years Bavaria’s state finance ministry had used its copyright on the book to prevent the publication of new editions. The book wasn’t actually banned in Germany, though. The new edition “sets out as far as possible Hitler’s sources, which were deeply rooted in the German racist tradition of the late 19th century,” said the Munich institute’s director, Andreas Wirsching. “This edition exposes the false information spread by Hitler, his downright lies and his many half-truths, which aimed at a pure propaganda effect.”
“At a time when the well-known formulae of far-right xenophobia are threatening to become … socially acceptable again in Europe, it is necessary to research and critically present the appalling driving forces of National Socialism and its deadly racism,” Wirsching said. “I think one shouldn’t pretend the book doesn’t exist,” Education Minister Johanna Wanka told n-tv television. “Such taboos can sometimes be counterproductive. It’s important that people who want to debunk this book have the appropriate material.”
Ian Kershaw, a Briton who is a leading biographer of Hitler, joined Friday’s book presentation and said it was “high time for a rigorously academic edition of “Mein Kampf” to be made available. “For years, I have considered the lifting of the ban on publication long overdue,” Kershaw said. “Censorship is almost always pointless in the long term in a free society, and only contributes to creating a negative myth, making a forbidden text more mysterious and awakening an inevitable fascination with the inaccessible.”