BERLIN, (Reuters) – For the first time since Hitler’s death, Germany is publishing the Nazi leader’s political treatise “Mein Kampf”, unleashing a highly charged row over whether the text is an inflammatory racist diatribe or a useful educational tool.
The 70-year copyright on the text, written by Hitler between 1924-1926 and banned by the Allies at the end of World War Two, expires at the end of the year, opening the way for a critical edition with explanatory sections and some 3,500 annotations.
In January the 2,000 page, two-volume work will go on sale after about three years of labour by scholars at Munich’s Institute for Contemporary History.
Hitler wrote most of the first, highly autobiographical, volume while incarcerated in Landsberg prison after his failed Munich coup attempt in 1923. After his release, he wrote much of the second volume at his mountain retreat near Berchtesgaden.
In the book, a mix of personal experience and political ideology, he outlined his strategy. A bestseller after he became chancellor in 1933, it had by 1945 sold 12 million copies and been translated into 18 languages.
The publication is a big step for Germany, which is still struggling with the legacy of the Nazi era and the Holocaust.
Polls show deeply divided public opinion. A YouGov survey last month said 51 percent of Germans oppose a continuation of the ban. The state of Bavaria has until now repeatedly used the copyright transferred to it by the Allies to prevent a reprint.