Hitler’s infamous Mein Kampf has reached the bookstores of Germany for the first time since 1945. After a ban that lasted decades, the book is now in the public domain, which means it is again available to the German public.
With the republication of Mein Kampf (My Struggle in English, which is a remarkable “soft” translation as it could have been translated into “My Battle” as well) many are concerned that hatred towards Jews will rise once more. According to the scholars, who were allowed a copy of Mein Kampf for academic reasons, the book is full of pure hatred towards the Jewish community and is not at all a pleasant read.
There is an uneasiness about the book reaching the German shelves again. Especially, since it has become wildly popular and there is a high demand for the book. Why? one could wonder. For the simple reason that any book that has been banned for an extended period of time is bound to become popular. There’s a mystery surrounding the book that interests the reader. And that is despite the fact that Mein Kampf has been available online and in libraries. There was never an official ban on the book, yet new editions were never published.
I’m intrigued in reading it myself. Not at all, because I sympathise with Hitler to any degree. Like many others, I am intrigued in reading it, because it has been banned for so long and my curiosity for it has been awakened by that exact reason. I am quite confident that I in no way will agree with his viewpoints. If years and years of education and documentaries on the Second World War hasn’t proven me his world vision was a destructive and sick one, I’d have to seriously consider a modification on my brain.
I do not doubt those reading it for the same reasons have enough common sense to look at it the same way. So, is all this worry about the publication unjustified? Most likely it isn’t. When I was studying in Germany, I witnessed how active the nazi parties still are today. In particular a protest led by the neo-Nazi party (the NPD: Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands) in the city I was studying in shook me awake and showed me the reality of it. Believe it or not, Hitler’s world views are still very much alive and I do not doubt Mein Kampf will strengthen their beliefs.
Er ist wieder da, a book by Timur Vermes, which has recently reached the theatres, attempted to show the public this as well. Under the pretense of a comedy on Hitler, it revealed a strong message. Take a look at Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, the film seemed to say. Take a look at these political figures, who are pointing to one group and put all blame on them. That’s oddly familiar, isn’t it?
In an attempt to ensure readers take in the information in the book with a critical eye, the new edition has been adjusted. It has now appeared as an annotated edition and is named Mein Kamp: Eine Kritische Edition (My Struggle, a critical edition). This means that there are side notes informing the reader about Hitler’s ideologies and the consequences of his reign. Something that, to me, will only add to the book and give a better, more balanced picture.
Whether Mein Kampf will again serve as a kind of Bible for extremists in Germany, as it did during the Second World War, can be questioned. If they would have wished to read it, they could have already. Nevertheless, the book now being widespread and ordered by the thousands can certainly create a change. I certainly hope the change will bring an even further aversion to Hitler’s ideologies. However, completely ignoring how present Hitler still is today would be foolish.