Berlin Rabbi: Risks of Teaching 'Mein Kampf' in School Outway Benefits

Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal has broken with the head of the German Jewish community, who says the new edition is an important tool 'to explain National Socialism and the Shoah.'

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Copies of "Mein Kampf" displayed at Documentation Center in Congress Hall, Nuremberg-Numberg, Germany, August 9, 2012.
Copies of "Mein Kampf" displayed at Documentation Center in Congress Hall, Nuremberg-Numberg, Germany, August 9, 2012. Credit: Adam Jones, Ph.D.

A Berlin rabbi has broken with the head of the German Jewish community over whether a new edition of “Mein Kampf” belongs in German classrooms.

“The risk is greater than the benefit,” Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal said Saturday night, according to a statement issued by his spokesman.

Teichtal said there is a “risk that its introduction into the school curriculum will be abused by problematic factors working to spread the ideas mentioned in it.”

Teichtal’s views contradict those of Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who recently said he found the new edition an important tool “to explain [the roots of] National Socialism and the Shoah.”

Charlotte Knobloch, who previously served as council head, reacting to news that the German Teachers Federation is eager to teach the new edition in schools, said that as long as German students associate Jews only with the Holocaust, “this deeply anti-Jewish diatribe — of all texts — does not belong in the classroom.”

The new edition, prepared and published by Munich’s Institute for Contemporary History, is due out next month, just as the copyright runs out 70 years after Adolf Hitler’s death by suicide in April 1945.

The state of Bavaria, which inherited the copyright, subsidized the new publication in order to ensure that a responsible, scholarly edition be available immediately upon the copyright’s expiration.

The state has said it will crack down on the publication of non-annotated editions. German courts also will review any other annotated editions that come out to ensure they do not endorse Hitler’s genocidal message. Exoneration, glorification or denial of Nazi crimes are illegal in Germany, as is the uncritical repetition of Nazi propaganda.

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