Jewish groups in Germany and abroad are divided in their reactions to the news that excerpts from Adolf Hitler‘s autobiography “Mein Kampf ”(My Struggle), are to be published in a magazine. Hitler’s words will be carefully excerpted and contextualized with commentaries from renowned historians.
Although it is not technically illegal to reprint “Mein Kampf” in Germany, the book has not been printed there since shortly after World War II. The Bavarian government owns the copyright laws and has not previously permitted any party access to them. But since the copyright on “Mein Kampf” expires in 2015, the time has nearly come for Germany to face Hitler’s autobiography once again, which outlines his anti-Semitic philosophy.
The negative response to this news from many Jews is understandable — especially for Holocaust survivors and their descendants.
“There is a reason that the public display of the swastika is illegal in Germany,” said Elan Steinburg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. “For these same historic and moral reasons, it is offensive to think that kiosks in Berlin will again — 70 years after the end of that evil regime — be selling Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf.’” (CNN)
Heather Horn of The Atlantic weighs in with a different view in an article titled “Germany’s Outdated, Wrongheaded Ban on Nazi Books Like ‘Mein Kampf.’” She argues that suppressing Nazi materials will do nothing to ensure the continuation of such sentiments, and in fact may lend appeal to Hitler’s ideals by shrouding them in mysticism. Besides, everything is already available on the internet.
“Fighting reprints is no protection against fascism, or even against poor taste and inflammatory rhetoric. Quite the contrary.” (The Atlantic)
I tend to agree with Horn and find myself immediately repelled by any form of book banning or censorship, but Mein Kampf is certainly a step above your run-of-the-mill “bad book.” What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo credit: Philippe AMIOT