"Mein Kampf" bei Barnes & Noble

December 06, 2013

This country is full of surprises. Believe it or not, while browsing through the shelves at Barnes and Noble, the largest book retailer in the United States, I suddenly gazed at the following assortment of books:

I didn't trust my eyes! An English version of Hitler's "Mein Kampf"? Amidst a Hermann Göring biography and similar books "decorated" with "Hakenkreuz" and "Fraktur" letters? Freely accessible in a regular book store? With not only one copy on the shelf, but actually four of them? I have never seen anything like this in Germany, so believe me, I was suprised! The book is also available at amazon.com, and seems to sell quite well. Within the biographies category, it scores way up.

So far, I believed I would never be able to see a newly printed version of "Mein Kampf" in a German book store. Of course, like the American constitution, the German "Grundgesetz" guarantees freedom of the speech and a free press, but it also puts some constraints on these rights, within the constitutional article itself. A simple, uncommented reprint would be considered Nazi propaganda and is thus illegal in Germany and banned from the stores. Fortunately!

 

There is another reason why the book can't simply be reprinted in German language, and that's because after WWII the publishing rights were acquired by the state of Bavaria, which, so far, has never agreed upon any publisher's desire to reprint it. However, in 2016, 70 years after the year of Hitlers's death, the copyright is going to expire, and publishers might aim to reprint it. There are movements in German government and culture, however, to prevent this from happening.

I tried to find out what the current legal status of used copies is in Germany. Actually, there is a Wikipedia article about it, and it looks like that one might buy or sell antique versions of "Mein Kampf" legally. Millions of copies have been printed that half century ago, so I guess that many, many copies are still floating around.

By the way, if you look closely at the photo above, you'll see that it's also a selfie. Not the most flattering one, I must admit...

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