German Jewish groups are applauding a Munich-based historical organization’s plans to republish Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) in a few years. Jewish leaders there said they hoped for “an aggressive and enlightening engagement with the book.”
Actually, it makes sense if you think about it. The copyright on the book, owned by the state of Bavaria, expires in 2015—70 years after the death of its author. No doubt some of the groups who would look to publish new editions are neo-Nazi outfits who would, let us say, fail to put the work in the proper context. By contrast, the Institute of Contemporary History pledged to add extensive annotations “pointing out the falsity of much of what [Hitler] wrote.”
No wonder several Jewish leaders declared that the new edition will hopefully “prevent neo-Nazis from profiteering from Mein Kampf, while an aggressive and enlightening engagement with the book would doubtless remove many of its false, persisting myths.” Remember in high school history, when you read Oliver Wendell Holmes arguing, “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market”? This is kind of like that. The Jewish groups are counting on the market’s ability to crush Hitler’s ideas.
So hopefully Germans of 2015 will read it and realize how crappy it is. Frankly, more folks in the 1930s should probably have taken a peek: in the book—whose sales outstripped those of the Bible in Germany in its heyday—Hitler announced (a decade before World War II) his plans to eliminate the Jews, and suggests that the best way for the German Reich to expand would be to take some of Russia’s land. Hitler was many things, but coy was not one of them.