World

Copyright On Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' Expires Today

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A copy of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle") from 1940 is pictured in Berlin, Germany, December 16. For the first time since Hitler's death, Germany is publishing the Nazi leader's political treatise, unleashing a highly charged disagreement over whether the text is an inflammatory racist diatribe or a useful educational tool. Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf entered the public domain on Friday, 70 years after the copyright was given to a Nazi publishing house in Bavaria. 

Written by the anti-Semitic leader in 1924, the book sold 12 million copies between 1933 and 1945, during which time it was translated into 18 languages (in English, the title translates to My Struggle)

The Bavarian publishing house has declined to allow the book to be reprinted since 1945 because of the hateful nature of its writing and out of respect for those who were killed in the Holocaust. Now that the book is in the public domain, it can be reprinted without the former copyright holder's permission.

According to AFP, the French publisher Fayard plans to translate Mein Kampf into French and sell it. The Institute of Contemporary History of Munich (IZF) has created a 2,000-page annotated version of the book, which will be sold for $65 starting January 8. Because of its length, it is split into two volumes. 

Andreas Wirshing, the director of IFZ, told AFP that each passage of Mein Kampf is met with scholarly annotations, allowing the reader "to notice the commentaries and take them into account." Speaking with another publication, Wirshing added: "Any Hitler sympathizers who might be interested in the book are better off looking elsewhere." 

The annotated version has earned the praise of the German education minister, Johanna Wanka, who told AFP it should be taught in schools. Dan Michman, who runs the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, also sees value in a scholarly reproduction of the book. "In this era of rampant Holocaust denial and distortion, it is important for the public at large to possess the knowledge previously only held by researchers and historians," he told the Financial Times earlier this year. 

Not all are fans of IFZ's work, including Charloote Knobolch, president of a German Jewish community, who told AFP that printing the original text of the book is "in the interest of right wing militants and Islamists to spread these ideas." 

To Wirshing's point, the book has long been available elsewhere despite the copyright. Versions exist online and have been sold in other nations. In March 2015, a copy of the book signed by Hitler was purchased for $43,750

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