‘Mein Kampf’, the book-come-manifesto written by Adolf Hitler in 1925, is due to be published in Germany for the first time since the end of WWII. The book’s copyright, handed to the state of Bavaria by Allied forces when the Nazis were defeated, expires on 31st December this year so the rights will become part of the public domain. It has, until now, been prevented from being published in an effort to curb the re-introduction of Nazi sentiment after the war. It will be published in the new year together with notes of criticism from scholars, and therefore given an arms-length treatment as a historical document and artefact.
The book has been branded ‘the most dangerous in history’ by The Guardian and is widely regarded as being a critical factor in the huge following and support that amassed behind Hitler in 1930s Germany. There is fear that it will have the same effect now amongst some groups. A spokesperson for a Jewish group in Munich said the book “deserves neither discussion nor acknowledgment today”. In response to these fears, German officials have reportedly said that public access to the text will be ‘limited’.
The point of the scholar’s criticism, The Independent claims, is to ‘debunk’ the faults in the Nazi’s ideology and the lies it is based on. This way the text can be studied as a piece of history whilst keeping the potentially insidious ideas it holds at bay.
The whole issue brings to light a bigger debate about whether to give a platform to extremist opinions. When left officially un-addressed controversial ideologies come out in different ways, and un-challenged. They become appealing to often vulnerable people which breeds more of the same. Germany has a bigger problem than the UK with far right politics and neo-nazism, with Pegida rallies attracting numbers of up to 20,000. By bringing the text into the public domain, with direct criticism of exactly why the theory is flawed, it quells any attempt at rationally justifying the hatred.