Is Germany ready for the return of Mein Kampf?

First aired on Q (18/07/12)

For the first time in decades, Hitler's controversial autobiography Mein Kampf ("My Battle" in English) will be published in Germany.

A nationwide ban on the book has been in place since the end of the Second World War. The copyright on Hitler's book has been held by Bavarian authorities, but once the copyright expires in 2015, anyone can legally publish Mein Kampf.

Mein_Kampf-cover-125.jpgBavarian officials announced they will publish the book, which reveals Hitler's extreme nationalistic ideology and his anti-Semitic views, with annotations provided by historians to provide context, in an effort to defuse the inflammatory content.

Naturally, this impending publication has sparked a massive debate globally about whether the book should see the light of day again in Germany.

"Of course, it's a viciously anti-Semitic book," Berlin-based journalist Paul Hockenos said during a recent interview on Q. "He claims that there's an international [Jewish conspiracy] to dominate the world and reduce Germans to their underlings. He calls for Germany's rearmament, this is of course after the First World War when it wasn't allowed to arm itself. He calls for the annexation of Austria, the rejection of the Versailles peace treaty and the necessity of a race war to create living space for Germans in Eastern Europe."

It's hateful content, but it's also a historically intriguing document, written by one of history's most notorious figures. Many see it as the blueprint for Nazism. But has enough time passed? Is Germany ready for the return of Mein Kampf? Hockenos thinks so.

"Well, in my opinion, Germany is a modern democracy with very liberal values. In many ways, it's a model state, so I certainly think that Germans are ready for Mein Kampf."

The book has also been available over the internet for years, so anyone in Germany who has truly wanted to read it has more or less been able to. In this digital age, it's hard to truly ban books, but there have been many attempts to do so around the world. The following books have had bans on placed on them in recent decades:

  • Australia's state of Queensland barred American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis for a time
  • The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer was banned in Canada in 1949
  • Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller was blacklisted for three decades in the U.S.
  • The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien faced a ban in Ireland in the 1960s for sexually explicit content

Where do you stand on banning books? Do you believe some books truly deserve to be banned or should writers retain freedom of expression, no matter how radical their opinions? Let us know.