BERLIN (JTA) — A German Jewish leader has endorsed publication of an annotated edition of Adolf Hitler’s "Mein Kampf."
The Institute for Contemporary History in Munich applied last week for permission to reprint the work, which institute director Horst Möller once called an "effective piece of drivel."
Hitler had left the printing rights to the state of Bavaria, where he wrote "Mein Kampf" while in prison in 1924. Bavaria has banned its publication in Germany and prevented the work elsewhere. The copyright expires in 2015, 70 years after Hitler’s death.
Bavarian authorities said they would not lift the ban out of concern that right-wingers could legally use the work. Horst Wolf, spokesman for the state’s Ministry of Finance, told reporters that the "prohibition is recognized and highly regarded by Jewish groups, and we mean to keep it that way."
But Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told ZDF television on Aug. 5 that it made sense to publish the book, "to prevent neo-Nazis from profiting from it" and to "remove many of its false, persistent myths."
The argument has surfaced frequently of late. In June, the Bavarian minister of science and research said he favored a "decently prepared and well-grounded critical edition" lest "charlatans and neo-Nazis could seize this disgraceful work when Bavaria’s rights run out." In 2004, German Jewish author Rafael Seligmann said readers in Germany should see for themselves the seeds of Hitler’s genocidal plans.
In 2008, Kramer said the Central Council would gladly help prepare an annotated edition, including for an authorized Internet publication. Unauthorized versions are available now on far-right and Islamic extremist Web sites based outside Germany. Germany bans the public display of Nazi symbols and hate material, including on the Internet.