Oh, the horror! Did you hear? Germany is republishing Mein Kampf! The Hitler book! The Nazi book! The Devil’s Bible! Who has allowed this? Has the Antichrist come back to earth? Is Satan taking over the world? What are we coming to?
I apologize. I couldn’t resist laying the sarcasm on thick today. The Atlantic has indeed reported the decision by a German government to re-issue Hitler’s infamous writings. The first issue will be out by around 2015. It will be annotated.
The only thing shocking about it is why it didn’t happen before. Germany has had some rough times since World War Two, but I don’t think banning Mein Kampf would have helped things very much. I like The Atlantic‘s take on the issue; Jacob Heilbrunn comments that “Hitler himself would surely be displeased to know that his book was, in effect, being further defanged by a democratic Germany, which is treating it in a calm and clinical manner.”
Why bother banning Mein Kampf in the first place? I’ve been told it has terrible prose. The ideas are terrible, too, but there’s a difference between saying that and then actually reading the ideas. Banning books makes people suspicious in these times. .
At least they do on my side of the Atlantic. This incident makes me want to understand more about German society in the last couple of decades. Was it indeed wise to have the book banned for a while? I’d be interested to see the answer; I think it might be more complex than I understand right now. Also, to be honest, I do want to read Mein Kampf, if ever I found the time. I want to know my enemy.