An annotated edition of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's notorious manifesto, has become a nonfiction best-seller in Germany. The publisher said Tuesday that a sixth print run will go on sale later this month.
Some 85,000 copies of the book have been sold since it was first published a year ago, according to the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History. The publisher spent years adding comments to Hitler's original text in an effort to highlight his propaganda and mistakes.
The institute said in late 2015 that it planned an initial print run of up to 4,000 copies and wasn't sure whether more would be printed. In April, however, the book topped the weekly Der Spiegel's nonfiction best-seller list.
The bulky two-volume edition, titled Hitler, Mein Kampf: A Critical Edition, weighs in at 1,948 pages and costs a hefty 59 euros ($62). It was the first version to be published in Germany since the end of World War II.
Before the copyright on Mein Kampf held by Bavaria's state finance ministry expired at the end of 2015, the ministry had used it prevent the publication of new editions in the country.
Despite its incendiary and anti-Semitic content, the book wasn't actually banned in Germany and could be found online, in secondhand bookshops and in libraries.
The Institute for Contemporary History said fears that the new publication might help make Hitler's ideology socially acceptable had proved unfounded.
"On the contrary, the discussion about Hitler's world view and how to deal with his propaganda offered the opportunity to look at the disastrous roots and consequences at a time when authoritarian political ideas and right-wing slogans are again gaining followers," Andreas Wirsching, the institute's director, said.
German authorities have made clear they won't tolerate new versions without annotations.
A far-right publisher announced last year that it planned to produce an edition "without annoying commentary," prompting an investigation of suspected incitement. Prosecutors say there's no indication that the book actually went on sale.
Mein Kampf, (German: “My Struggle”) political manifesto written by Adolf Hitler. It was his only complete book and became the bible of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany’s Third Reich. It was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1927, and an abridged edition appeared in 1930. By 1939 it had sold 5,200,000 copies and had been translated into 11 languages.
The first volume, entitled Die Abrechnung (“The Settlement [of Accounts],” or “Revenge”), was written in 1924 in the Bavarian fortress of Landsberg am Lech, where Hitler was imprisoned after the abortive Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. It treats the world of Hitler’s youth, the First World War, and the “betrayal” of Germany’s collapse in 1918; it also expresses Hitler’s racistideology, identifying the Aryan as the “genius” race and the Jew as the “parasite,” and declares the need for Germans to seek living space (Lebensraum) in the East at the expense of the Slavs and the hated Marxists of Russia. It also calls for revenge against France.
According to Hitler, it was “the sacred mission of the German people…to assemble and preserve the most valuable racial elements…and raise them to the dominant position.” “All who are not of a good race are chaff,” wrote Hitler. It was necessary for Germans to “occupy themselves not merely with the breeding of dogs, horses, and cats but also with care for the purity of their own blood.” Hitler ascribed international significance to the elimination of Jews, which “must necessarily be a bloody process,” he wrote.
The second volume, entitled Die Nationalsozialistische Bewegung (“The National Socialist Movement”), written after Hitler’s release from prison in December 1924, outlines the political program, including the terrorist methods, that National Socialism must pursue both in gaining power and in exercising it thereafter in the new Germany.
In style, Mein Kampf has been appropriately deemed turgid, repetitious, wandering, illogical, and, in the first edition at least, filled with grammatical errors—all reflecting a half-educated man. It was skillfully demagogic, however, appealing to many dissatisfied elements in Germany—the ultranationalistic, the anti-Semitic, the antidemocratic, the anti-Marxist, and the military.
Postwar German law banned the sale and public display of books espousing Nazi philosophy. Moreover, the copyright for Mein Kampf had been awarded to the German state of Bavaria, which refused to grant publishing rights. However, foreign publishers continued to print the work, an act that brought condemnation both in Germany and in the countries where the book was published, not least because of its popularity with white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. There also was great concern in some circles over the availability of the book from Internet-based booksellers. On January 1, 2016, the copyright for Mein Kampf expired, and the book entered public domain. Shortly thereafter Munich’s Institute for Contemporary History published a heavily annotated edition.