How Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' Became a Best-seller in Germany - in 2016

The publisher spent years adding comments to Hitler's original text in an effort to highlight his propaganda and mistakes.

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A copy of "Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition" on a display table in a Munich bookstore, on January 8, 2016.
A copy of "Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition" on a display table in a Munich bookstore, on January 8, 2016.Credit: Reuters

An annotated edition of "Mein Kampf," Adolf Hitler's notorious manifesto, has become a non-fiction best-seller in Germany. The publisher said Tuesday that a sixth print run will go on sale later this month.

Some 85,000 copies of the book have been sold since it was first published a year ago, according to the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History. The publisher spent years adding comments to Hitler's original text in an effort to highlight his propaganda and mistakes.

The institute said in late 2015 that it planned an initial print run of up to 4,000 copies and wasn't sure whether more would be printed. In April, however, the book topped the weekly Der Spiegel's non-fiction best-seller list.

The bulky two-volume edition, titled "Hitler, Mein Kampf: A Critical Edition," weighs in at 1,948 pages and costs a hefty 59 euros ($62). It was the first version to be published in Germany since the end of World War II.

Before the copyright on "Mein Kampf held by Bavaria's state finance ministry expired at the end of 2015, the ministry had used it prevent the publication of new editions in the country.

Despite its incendiary and anti-Semitic content, the book wasn't actually banned in Germany and could be found online, in secondhand bookshops and in libraries.

The Institute for Contemporary History said fears that the new publication might help make Hitler's ideology socially acceptable had proven unfounded.

"On the contrary, the discussion about Hitler's world view and how to deal with his propaganda offered the opportunity to look at the disastrous roots and consequences at a time when authoritarian political ideas and right-wing slogans are again gaining followers," Andreas Wirsching, the institute's director, said.

German authorities have made clear they won't tolerate new versions without annotations.

A far-right publisher announced last year that it planned to produce an edition "without annoying commentary," prompting an investigation of suspected incitement. Prosecutors say there's no indication that the book actually went on sale.

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