Mein Kampf: Bavaria plans first German publication since WWII

Mein Kampf Bavaria has used copyright laws to prevent the publication of German editions of Mein Kampf

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The German state of Bavaria is preparing to publish Hitler's manifesto, Mein Kampf, in 2015, before the book's copyright expires.

The book is not banned by law in Germany, but Bavaria has used ownership of the copyright to prevent publication of German editions since 1945.

Copyright restrictions stop at the end of 2015, 70 years after Hitler's death.

The Bavarian government says it is preparing an edition for students which will include a critical commentary.

Hitler wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle) in 1924, while serving a prison sentence for attempting to stage a coup.

'Boring'

Analysis

The two volumes of Mein Kampf were published in 1925 and 1926, before Hitler became chancellor of Germany.

They do not spell out the details of any plan to murder all the Jews of Europe, but they do make clear his driving racism.

Unlike public displays of the Nazi salute or the swastika, selling it in Germany is not actually against the law, simply a breach of copyright.

After the war, the victorious Allies gave the right to publish Mein Kampf in Germany to Bavaria so it can prohibit publication, which it always has.

It was this that persuaded a reputable magazine in Germany to pull back from publishing extracts with notes by historians earlier this year.

When the copyright expires, there is no great expectation of a sales bonanza. Many, including Italian dictator Mussolini, have found the book boring.

Edith Raim of the Institute of Contemporary History, said of the post-copyright version she is preparing:

"Our book won't find any buyers in the Neo-Nazi scene. It's going to be a solid scientific work".

Part biography, part political and racist rant, the book outlines the core of Nazi ideology.

It has not appeared in German since the end of World War II but until 1945 around 10 million copies were sold. The book is available in translation and on the internet.

After Hitler came to power in 1933 couples were given the book at their wedding, as a present from the Nazi state.

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin says that many readers, not least the Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, have found the book boring.

'Commercially unattractive'

Bavaria's state finance minister Markus Soeder said the decision was taken after talks with advocates and opponents of publication, and explained that it was aimed at "demystifying" the book.

"We want to make clear what nonsense is in there," and to show "what a worldwide catastrophe this dangerous body of thought led to".

By publishing in 2015 before the expiry of the copyright, Bavaria hopes to make future German editions as "commercially unattractive" as possible.

From 2016 there will be no restrictions at all on the book's publication, unless it is used to incite racial hatred.

The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, said he would prefer German citizens to be able to read a copy with notes of explanation.

Last month a court in Munich ruled that a British publisher, Peter Magee, could not sell extracts of the work in German.

He has said he intends to appeal against that decision.

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