After a 70-year ban, Adolf Hitler's Nazi manifesto Mein Kampf was made available again in Germany in 2016, and as The BBC reports, the German publisher of a special annotated edition of the anti-semitic text says sales have soared since its launch a year ago.
How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.
- Adolf Hitler
As The BBC reports, about 85,000 German-language copies of the anti-Semitic Nazi manifesto have been sold.
Publisher Andreas Wirsching said "the figures overwhelmed us".
He is director of the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich.
At the end of January the IfZ will launch a sixth print run. The book contains critical notes by scholars.
Unlike the Nazi-era editions, the IfZ's Mein Kampf (My Struggle) has a plain white cover - without a picture of Hitler. The swastika and other Nazi symbols are banned in Germany.
Mr Wirsching told the German news agency DPA that the IfZ was planning a shorter, French-language edition. "But two-thirds of our commentaries will be translated" for it, he said.
He said the IfZ had obtained solid legal advice before republishing the book on a limited scale. And the scholarly edition was aimed partly at pre-empting any editions put out by Nazi sympathisers.
"It would be irresponsible to just let this text spread arbitrarily," he told DPA.
But, as Mike Krieger noted previously, sales of Hitler's manifesto have been soaring worldwide for the last few years. At this point, we’d like to remain hopeful that these sales trends spring from a similar curiosity on behalf of the population, rather than from a darker more hateful place. From Time:
The infamous manifesto Adolf Hitler wrote while in prison after a failed coup in 1923, Mein Kampf or My Struggle, in which the dictator outlined his idea of a global Jewish conspiracy, is a surprise hit on the ebook market. While the book’s print copy sales remain stagnant, the ebook is in the top 20 on iTunes’s Politics & Events chart, next to books by Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, the number one Propaganda & Political Psychology book on Amazon, and the 17th bestseller in the company’s Nationalism list. How could that be?
Chris Faraone explains why in a fascinating essaythat argues ebooks provide the perfect format for reading controversial material. “Mein Kampf could be following a similar trend to that of smut and romance novels,” Faraone writes. Customers may have not wanted to be seen reading the book or having it on their shelf at home, but the cheap digital copies “can be quietly perused then dropped into a folder or deleted.”
Ebook reviewers’ comments support the 50 Shades of Grey theory. “I think I waited 45 years to read Hitler’s words… I wish I had read it sooner,” wrote Steven Wagg. “Curiosity killed me to get this book,” said another reviewer. The document also functions as a warning: “People need to understand that if we do not learn from people like this, then we will fall into their traps again,” Ray D’Aguanno wrote on Amazon.
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, says it "'would be best to leave 'Mein Kampf' where it belongs: the poison cabinet of history.'" "'Unlike other works that truly deserve to be republished as annotated editions, 'Mein Kampf' does not,'" he adds.