Hitlers Controversial Autobiography to be Reprinted with Critical Commentary

The Allies banned Mein Kampf in 1945 and the book has not been officially published in German or Germany since. In accordance with European copyright laws, the copyright for Mein Kampf expires on December 31st of this year, 70 years after Hitler’s death. A version will be published with “critical commentary” by German historians through the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, a distinguished center for the study of Nazism. They have added 3,500 academic annotations to the book.

In a statement on the publication of Mein Kampf, the Institution posits a series of question they aim to answer in the annotated version of Hitler’s work: “How did his thesis arise? What aims was he pursuing in writing Mein Kampf? What social support did Hitler’s assertion have among his contemporaries? What consequences did his claims and asseverations have after 1933? And in particular: given the present state of knowledge, what can we counterpose to Hitler’s innumerable assertions, lies and expressions of intent?”

According to the New York Times, Christian Hartmann, the leading historian for this annotated edition, has said that the project was discussed “with several interlocutors abroad, particularly Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel.”  The Institute of Contemporary History also stated that their edition will be an important source for political and historical education; “It seeks to thoroughly deconstruct Hitler’s propaganda in a lasting manner and thus to undermine the still effective symbolic power of the book. In this way, it also makes it possible to counter an ideological-propagandistic and commercial misuse of Mein Kampf.”

While the intention of the critical edition is to put Hitler’s work in a historical context and provide a deeper understanding of how Hitler contributed to Nazi propaganda with Mein Kampf, the publication has sparked some outrage. In a statement released by the New York Times, Charlotte Knobloch, a Jewish leader in Munich who witnessed the 1938 attacks on Jews in the Bavarian capital, has said that Mein Kampf is a “disgusting incitement to hatred and the basis of the Holocaust,” which “deserves neither discussion nor acknowledgement today.”

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