Sunday January 31, 2016

Hitler's Mein Kampf gets a makeover

A copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf, A Critical Edition, stands on a display table in a book shop in Munich, Germany.

A copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf, A Critical Edition, stands on a display table in a book shop in Munich, Germany. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press)

Listen 22:00

Earlier this month, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, a new edition of Hitler's memoir, Mein Kampf, went on sale in German bookstores. It's a two-volume set, 1,948 pages long. It includes the complete original text, accompanied by more than 3,500 annotations written by historians,

The entire print run of 4,000 copies sold out in four days.

Hitler giving speech

(Getty Images)

For the last 90 years, Mein Kampf has been treated as the foundational document of Nazism -- the catalyst for one of modern history's darkest periods, paving the road to the Holocaust. It has been called the world's most dangerous book.

Not surprisingly, news of its publication has generated a heated debate in Germany.

Should it receive critical, historical attention, so as to strip it of its power? Or is it opening Pandora's box? 

A new critical edition of Mein Kampf

(Getty Images)

Coincidentally, the publication of Mein Kampf comes at a time when Germany's ultra-right wing political parties, are experiencing a surge in popularity. They are capitalizing on a growing backlash against Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to settle a million refugees in the country last year.

Maiken Umbach

Maiken Umbach, University of Nottingham (U of Nottingham)

Michael talks to Maiken Umbach, Chair of Modern History at the University of Nottingham in England. She is also the joint director of the Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies, and is currently collaborating with the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, which published the annotated version of Mein Kampf, on a project about private life under National Socialism. Professor Umbach is the author of a number of books that explore different aspects of German politics and culture, before and during the era of National Socialism.