February 4, 2010 / 6:06 PM / 9 years ago

German historians plan Hitler's Mein Kampf reprint

BERLIN (Reuters) - German historians plan to reissue Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” the partly autobiographical book which outlined the Nazi dictator’s vision of racial supremacy.

A young Czech woman reads a copy of Hitler's manifesto Mein Kampf in a central Prague bookstore March 27, 2000. REUTERS/Petr David Josek

Banned since the war, the anti-Jewish political work first published in 1925 became a school textbook after Hitler seized power in 1933. All German newlyweds also received a copy.

Edith Raim at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich said on Thursday the center plans to issue an annotated version of Mein Kampf (My Struggle) with editorial comments once the copyright expires at the end of 2015.

“It’s one of the most important books of the National Socialist era: it should be available to the public,” said Raim.

The general secretary of Germany’s Central Council of Jews had mooted a similar idea in 2008.

In Germany, it is illegal to distribute the lengthy tome except in special circumstances — such as for academic research. Nazi symbols like the swastika and performing the stiff-armed Hitler salute are also outlawed.

Raim said the planned reprint of the book that had run to some 12 million copies by the end of the war aimed to help alert people to the dangers of Nazi ideology, not spread it.

“More than two generations have passed since then,” she said. “I don’t think the contents of the book pose the same risks to the population today.” Hitler dictated the book to his aide Rudolf Hess while in prison in Bavaria following the failed Munich “Beer Hall” putsch of 1923. The work details his doctrine of German racial supremacy and ambitions to annex huge areas of the Soviet Union.

The Bavarian state government, which has had held the copyright since the war, said it had no intention of relaxing its restrictions on the book’s publication for now.

“When the copyright expires on December 31, 2015 the distribution of National Socialist ideology will still be prohibited and punishable by law,” the Bavarian state finance ministry said in a statement.

A number of historians have called on Germany to lift the ban in recent years, some of them Jewish.

Reporting by Dave Graham, editing by Paul Casciato

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