Mein Kampf – the litmus test

Today the BBC website has an interesting article that has given me pause for thought.

With its copyright on Hitler’s published writings due to expire in 2015, the state of Bavaria has decided to publish a new edition of the infamous tome written by Hitler during his nine month stay at Landsberg Prison in 1924 after the failed Munich Putsch.

Having read the article, I am inclined to agree with Stephen J Kramer, Head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, that the time is right to allow a new publication of the book, especially considering that it is freely available to read online.

This newest edition is to include detailed annotation and expert commentary in order to contextualise what are largely fanatic, extremist rantings within the book so that readers are not sucked into Hitler’s fantasies as they were in the 1920s and 30s when the book was first published. Of course, with the hindsight of what came as a result of Hitler’s goals for Germany and Europe that he laid out in his treatise, one would hope that those who choose to read the book will be aware of the dangerous path such thinking can take people down.

“…handling Hitler’s book will be an important litmus test of German political maturity and of whether Holocaust education of the past 60 years has succeeded or failed.”

Stephen J Kramer

What will be interesting is whether, as Kramer puts it, Holocaust education has truly succeeded in teaching about this watershed event. Perhaps especially in the current turbulent economic climate, when right-wing groups are raising their profiles in some European states, we will see whether Holocaust education’s aim of, for example, alerting students to “think about the use and abuse of power, and the roles and responsibilities of individuals, organizations, and nations when confronted with human rights violations” (ITF Guidelines) has rendered the power of this book impotent.

What do you think? Thoughts and comments welcome.

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