Thursday, April 26, 2012

German officials finally decide to deal with 'Mein Kampf'

Two small but surprising facts regarding Hilter's autobiography cum manifesto:

1. Publication has been forbidden in Germany since 1945 as has flaunting it in public or displaying it prominently in a shop window.
2. It is still in copyright in Germany, currently held by the Bavarian state finance ministry. Under German law published works stay in copyright for 70 years after the author's death (in Australia and NZ it is 50 years), which in Hitler's case lasts until 2015.

According to the UK Guardian, authorities in Bavaria, which have long struggled with how to deal with it, are now planning a "highly controlled" re-release of the book after that date in an effort to stop it being exploited by Neo-Nazis, which will include annotated notes countering Hitler's arguments.

Given that it has been freely available elsewhere in printed form, and can be downloaded from numerous websites, this ban seems to have been totally pointless. It is an important historical document, given that Hitler never wavered from the objectives stated in it, despite repudiating aspects of it from time to time for political purposes, and it explains his thinking and his attitudes.

It's hard to see what the risk has been anyway: even among Neo-Nazis, few today agree with Hitler's (and other Nazis') narrowly defined racial hierarchy with Nordic Germans at the top and Jews at the bottom; for them white Europeans generally are as good as each other; the threat to European culture comes from the races to the south and southeast of Europe.  And few if any Germans today would be interested in Lebensraum in the east (although some would like to have Stalin's 1945 changes to East European borders changed back to those of 1937).

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